Today the MN Broadband Task Force met to tie up loose ends of the upcoming report. They talked a bit about updating the projected cost to get broadband to everyone in Minnesota. With lots of caveats, they came up with a number of $5,527 per passing or a total of almost $1.4 billion to reach all of the unserved households. Again lots of caveats in that math – but it seems to fall in line with the earlier project (from 2010?) that it would cost $1-3 billion to serve unserved areas. Here’s the discussion:
The upcoming report will be an abridged version of earlier reports.
10:00 a.m. –10:10 a.m. – Introductions, Approval of Minutes, Public Comments
10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Office of Broadband Development Update
Still working hard to get through applications. Trying to get grant decisions done by the end of the month. BADC is taking up a lot of time and that work will extend to January.
Update on Broadband Confernece from Bernadine
- We had 8 learning stations from the OBD projects. Heard from projects from different parts of Minnesota doing different things.
- Theme of the project was partnering. Kevein Edberg talked about value-led corporations. NTCA talked about cooperatives.
- We released the case studies from 5 communities in rural Minnesota. Lots of videos, stories and looking at ROI.
- Recognized Danna’s award from NATOA.
From Shannon Heim
- Keynote speaker was very good – Roberto Gallardo.
- Roberto has created a Digital Divide Index award.
10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Discussion of Updated Cost to Deploy Broadband
We’ve been discussing this at the last two meetings.
Danna looked at unserved households –
- Households without wireline 25/3 – 252,000
- Average cost per passing from grant projects – it’s messy
- Looking at first 3 rounds of awards – $5527 per passing (we didn’t include wireless info)
- Looking at numbers from 1 wireless project available – per passing cost is much lower
- Adoption rate for wireless is very different from wired projects – but we only have one wireless project
- Looking at ACAM in MN – cost per passing is $4000 – $14000. (There’s operations and CAPEX costs in there.) But it does suggest that the numbers we’re seeing in the grant proejcgs are in the ballpark.
- The ODB projects don’t have operations costs tied to them.
- OBD grants are more suburban then rural and the ACAM projects are more rural. Projects farthest from the population density are less likely to be CAF projects.
- SO the back of the envelope number for getting broadband to Minnesota is $1.4 billion
- But we’re getting to the hardest/most expensive places to reach – however costs for wireless are coming down so there’s some balance.
- We should try to figure out how CAF/ACAM fits in here – especially since that looks like a multi-year ask from the State
- CenturyLink got $54 million per year for 7 years – how does that fit in?
- We need to look at all potential funds – but this can be a benchmark.
- “There’s work to be done and we all have a part to play.”
- A number is hard because it changes so quickly – except that legislators like to see numbers.
- Should we add 10 percent for contingency?
- Or do we use the per passing cost?
- Looking at the numbers it’s reasonable to see that most households can afford that cost per passing.
- We need to look at the ROI.
- At Sjoberg – we’ve found that even in areas with older folks – the next generation is saying get the broadband because you can’t sell without it.
- Also there will be needs for upgrade and aiming for the future. Especially because some areas are putting in basic services that won’t meet the 2026 goals.
- From the provider aspect – the biggest thing is getting the wire to the home – an upgrade is an easier decision because you already have a customer
- We need to show that this is an investment – not a cost.
- What is the increased tax revenue from improvements?
10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Subcommittee Review of Draft Report
They discussed the draft of the report in small groups. I have the draft they started with bot limited notes on the suggested changes.
11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lunch (Capitol basement)
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Full Task Force Discussion of Report
- Pg 5-6 – everyone is OK
- Pg 7 – everyone is OK
- Pg 8 – map
- Pg 9-11 – do we define rural area? There is an operating definition and we’ll add it.
- There’s a chart comparing served areas – the 10/5 is higher than 25/3 BECAUSE the upload is higher.
- Maybe in the future we can add key facts from key maps – bullets instead of paragraph
- It would be nice to add map of school districts.
- OBD gets a minor fall update – so we need to get most current
- Pg 12 – Bernadine can bring together stories from the conference and use Jane’s list of learning stations.
- Need to watch that we be cleat that the stories of the grant communities.
- Bernadine will also put together statistics on ROI of program for callout boxes.
- We need to get a # to include for recommendation for funding.
- Pg 13 – Keep a focus on OBD
- Consider reordering points – we need to make clear all of the tasks of the OBD. Need to add work in education.
- Pg 14 – will the TF be offering a number of recommendations? Thought we were going to focus on OBD and Fund. Replacing the callout box with something like
- “through the funding of the B2B grant we could support broadband a transportation, emergency communications and ERS…” Except we need to be careful about making people think of Firstnet funding since AT&T is doing that.
- SO maybe talk about the need for broadband funding with attaching a recommendation.
- Pg 15 – take off infrastructure recommendation
- If we don’t recommend something related to education – maybe we could add an editorial from Marc Johnson at ECMECC
- We don’t’ want to say this is the last report
December will be the last meeting for Steve Lewsader (CWA)