MN Broadband Task Force Meeting notes: finalizing annual report

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

OBD 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)

This entry was posted in Conferences, Minnesota Advisory Task Force, MN, uncategorized 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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