Minnesota Broadband Task Force Notes and Video: Planning for 2017

This morning I attended an abbreviated Task Force meeting. They spoke about upcoming legislation, to a couple of legislators and talked about plans for 2017 meetings, committees and streamlining the report writing.

I’ll post video here and follow with notes..

Update from Office of Broadband Development

  • We announced the awards from the third round of the grants.
  • 42 awards announced

The focus on a practical basis was unserved – most of the underserved locations were included in a larger project.

  • 62 – applications
  • $55M – total request
  • $34M – total awards
  • $40.3M – total match
  • 18,989 locations served
  • 18,370 – currently unserved locations
  • 568 – underserved locations
  • Challenges submitted – 44
  • Number of challengers – 13
  • Number of projects challenged – 28
  • Numbers of challenges results in non-funding 6

Reasons to challenge:

  1. Services exist
  2. Services are planned
  3. Construction is underway.

A mapper has been chosen for the next round of maps.

Estimated goal number: 209,000 households do not have access to 25/3 broadband.

OBD is looking at Sunrise township, Mill Lacs Electric and fiber/wireless hybrid.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on the Hennepin County project

Update on the education awards: 12 school districts (our of 33 applied) each received about $50,000 to deploy wireless programs in their school – for wireless routers to check out for home use and/or outfitted buses with wifi networks.

Some schools have had trouble with filter and security measures – maybe Blandin can help us since they have funded projects that have solved these issues.

Legislative Update:

Governor has suggested $60 million in funding ($30M per year)

Working on prevailing wage issues – the problem is that there isn’t a good fit for contractor who work on fiber and the types of hours they work. (projects funded with more than $250,000 state funding need to adhere to prevailing wage)

Working on the ability to place wireless equipment on agriculture preserves. Normally no commerce-type items can be placed on such land.

Governor suggestions $74 million on cyber security

Talking about future meetings

  • 5G – what can it do and how is it being deployed?
  • Where are we with IoT?
  • Large scale rural deployments (county and larger). How publicly traded companies
  • ROI for communities that got funding and those who didn’t?
  • TAP – and changes to TAP
  • Education superhighway and new K12 initiatives
  • Cybersecurity
  • Update from emergency services and use of the Internet (Public Safety)
  • E-911 – and text to 911
  • Connect Nations on Adoptions
  • FCC participants in ACAM programs – Arvig is one of the largest users of ACAM in the country.
  • Planning a road trip

Let’s try to start writing the report earlier this year. The committee work was really helpful last year and made the report writing much easier. Choosing topics/speakers that feed into the final report will be helpful.

Last year’s committees:

  • Adoption & Affordability
  • Emerging technologies
  • Accessibility

New ideas for committees

  • Regulation and policy change
  • Get economic impact of funded projects
  • Public safety – cyber security focus for a year
  • How broadband replaces what landlines used to do

Let’s look at 5G first -there’s a small cell bill right now and we might get called to testify.
Maybe we could look at FirstNet 911 first.

Rep Baker

  • If we get out work done the private sector can do what they do.
  • Spoke to Ways & Means and get folks on board.
  • I like the 2-year approach but we’re not mentioning numbers yet.
  • I understand that $60M would help boost fiber.
  • Spoke to Garofalo already – thanked him for his support for Greater MN and help keeping the topic relevant.
  • So much more work to be done.
  • What can we do to make it more efficient for the office?
  • How can we get more miles (of broadband) for the money?
  • I want to be a champion. Been talking with Kresha and an approach. We have some telecom issues we need to work out.

What makes a difference with your colleagues?

  • Show us the results – outcomes
  • Testimonials – from city officials
  • What is going on with telemedicine?
  • What’s going on with education?
  • Efficient spending of money
  • Working with CAF 2 funding with friends at CenturyLink

Rep Johnson

  • This is a good bipartisan topic.
  • I express my strong support.
  • Leveraging works.
  • Governor proposed $30M/30
  • Sen Simonson – proposed $100M
  • We may need to be tweaking of current process – maybe in terms of challenge process.
  • Need to make sure there’s sufficient operating funds.
  • Working with MNIT – need to work on cyber security. It’s an increasing issue. State of MN is very concerned.
  • Computer donations are good
  • Need to publicize low cost programs – like that from Comcast.
  • Computers at the libraries are getting used – esp by kids of color. Need library access!
  • Used to ride a school bus to school for an hour a day – glad to see bus time being used well with broadband.
  • IN regards to transportation – we need to prepare for driverless cars.
  • Regulatory reform – need to find compromise work with Andy Shriner (CenturyLInk) last year on some regulation.
  • Need to balance regulation of industry with consumer protections
  • Small cell wireless – rights of way is an issue.
  • Need MTA and local telecom companies need to talk to their representatives – that would be helpful

Maybe it would be helpful for Baker & Johnson t talk to Freshman legislators about broadband. We have 25-30 people that we could talk to about it.


A concern with the challenge process is that there isn’t much accountability for incumbents

This entry was posted in Conferences, Minnesota Advisory Task Force, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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