MN Broadband Task Force Meeting notes: superbowl technology and talk about lowering definition of broadband

The Task Force learned about the ins and outs of the communication technology around the Superbowl. They also heard from a fixed wireless provider. It led to some interesting discussions about the definition of broadband. The fixed wireless provider thought that 25/3 (which is the state goal for broadband by 2022) was too steep a climb because he had customers that were satisfied with lower speeds. That led to other people discussing the definition.

It was an interesting juxtaposition to hear about the huge investments, the 7.2 terabytes of data transferred, and awesome speeds experienced downtown Minneapolis during the Superbowl and the push to lower the definition of broadband in rural areas so that we could get people lower speeds more quickly. Some folks seemed to recognize that would lead to tiered services based on location. And having spent time in the field recently, I have heard folks in rural areas say they want faster speeds because they want to run businesses, do homework and access telehealth options. That is why the Task Force recommended and the legislature put into place state speed goals of 25/3 by 2022 and 100/20 by 2026.

The Task Force also talked about plans for the final report, considering the role of a future Task Force and how to capture the attention of legislators.

Notes from the day:

Office of Broadband Development

  • 4th round of awards is going well.
  • Trying to hire new staff.
  • 2018 broadband mapping round has been started. 50 percent of providers have their info in already so we’re expecting a strong map. Maps should be available in April.
  • Doing new things with mapping – to
  • K12 work continues. We have a Connect Forward program partnering with the SuperHighway and getting category 2 e-rate funding (internal networks).
  • E12 finanace chair is interested in equitable access funding
  • Legislative season is happening and we’re getting calls to brief committees on broadband status

Task Force Chair Report

  • We released the report out of MHTA as Governor’s behest.
  • Spoke on rural radio.
  • Did a Star Tribune story.
  • Got good coverage.
  • MHTA is going to DC next week and we’ll take the report with us. The federal delegation has shown interest.
  • There’s a new Commissioner at MNIT
  • The USDA Rural Development Director is now Brad Finseth (no longer Colleen Landkamer). Maybe we can ask him to meet with the Task Force.

CenturyLink: Super Bowl Technology Investment Update – Jesse Sullivan, CenturyLink
Q&A/Discussion—CenturyLink: Super Bowl Technology Investment Update

About external network:

  • Started on this 3 years ago with other partners
  • Wanted to invest in the property – and we had fiber nearby.
  • NFL, Vikings, NCAA all have requirements. We are the primary provider but there is a dual provider
  • There’s a primary & secondary circuit to help route traffic.
  • US Bank gets something akin to residential Prism service.
  • We work with networks. NBC broadcast the dame but other networks have access to use for news, ads et al and we have that access.
  • We provide access to Mall of America and practice space.

Are the investments permanent?

Most of the investments at the stadium are permanent – but outside the stadium they are temporary (such as at the MOA).

About internal network:

  • The LAN is a converge network.
  • IP Telephony, wifi in the building and outside (to light rail station). 1400 access points cover the building. We made them fit the aesthetic of the building.
  • There’s an IP TV solution.

The Final Four is coming in a couple years – with this technology be available for it?
Right. We designed a solution that would last for 5+ years.

Is there any benefit to the neighborhood around the stadium?

Yes – we might extend the free wifi to the park near the stadium.
We might start to connect a corridor between US Bank and Target Field.

What were biggest challenges?
This was the biggest project for CL to date.
Command center can help with emergency services

How was CL selected?
There was an RFP – because it is a publicly owned building.
There sport authority gets involved.

AT&T: Super Bowl Technology Investment Update – Paul Weirtz , AT&T State President
Andy Sackreiter, Director of Engineering, AT&T Minnesota/ Northern Plains
Q&A/Discussion—AT&T: Super Bowl Technology Investment Update

Showed this video:

See AT&T presentation

  • We have worked on big projects before. We work on everything from a regulatory framework that makes it easier to deploy the technology we want to deploy. The superbowl showcases what’s possible but opens the door to more.
  • Went from 100 Mg service to 500 Mg
  • This accelerated growth by a year in some areas.
  • 5G evolution comes first – then 5G and they are really marketing terms. It sets the stage for 5G.
  • We want to make sure that our area is relevant. We work to get AT&T to invest in the Twin Cities.
  • During the superbowl 7.2 terabytes of data happening in the area.

Is there a way to normalize such high use?
We made a huge leap in throughput.

Was investment permanent or temporary?
$43 million in permanent assets – and $1 million in temporary.
Our biggest challenge was weather and we couldn’t dig during the winter. That means no last minute drops.

First time we officially worked with FirstNet – which means AT&T had priority for emergencies.

Relevance of 5G?
That would require different spectrum

A lot of the 5G uses public domain frequencies – might need more regulation down the road

What should this Task Force take away from this experience?
Regulation helps – so the small cell bill opens doors
We have a short window for funding and if it doesn’t get spent it gets harder to recapture it. Regulation that helps us move quickly helps more funding come into Minnesota.
Construction is easier than dealing with permits et al.

There’s an expectation of connectivity in rural and urban areas. We need to understand the regulations for things like autonomous cars.

Comcast: Super Bowl Technology Investment Update – Chris Hanna, Engineer, Comcast Business Services
Q&A/Discussion—Comcast: Super Bowl – Technology Investment Update

See Comcast presentation

  • We were getting orders until the last minute.
  • It’s not about superbowl investment, it’s investment in the community.
  • We’ve invested $40 million since 2016 – $6 million in downtown Minneapolis
  • DOCSIS 3.1 – allows up to do Gigabit speeds. If you are in our footprint, you can get a gig.
  • We rolled this out last year, earlier than expected
  • We double our capacity every 18-24 months.
  • Provisioned dark fiber to temporary connections.

Are our state speed goals a consideration with your planning?
Comcast – we’re just trying to be the fastest. We aren’t
CenturyLink – we don’t use the speed goals when determining – they are aspirational, not mandated. We look at what it costs to build the network. Speed goals just aren’t a factor.
There’s just such a difference with rural versus urban markets. It’s just so different. It’s apples and oranges
AT&T – it’s a care against our competitors. We’re out testing 5G – which will blow by our state goals. We are in the global race.

There are two important things about speed goals:

  • We need benchmarks for policy
  • This work will never be done because the speed goal will always change as expectation changes.
  • There are different stories to be told – we need basic and aspirational goals especially when public funding is involved. But for a company, they have different benchmarks.

Federal funding does not match with state goals – such as CAF II doesn’t fund speed goals.

We accepted in the state an asymmetrical network. But maybe our aspirational goals need to be symmetrical.

There is a dual standard that we’ve heard here that we need to address with policy

  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Lunch

Representative Baker and Representative Layman are here

Baker – will continue to be a champion. We need your help to keep the rural voices heard. Will keep tweaking. Need to find funding.

Layman – has been working on broadband since the 1990s in Grand Rapids. Worked with Danna in Grand Marais. Glad to connect with Rep Baker.

LTD Broadband presentation – Corey Hauer, LTD Broadband
LTD Broadband presentation discussion

Fixed wireless ISP – we put an antenna on the house that points to connectivity. We focus on rural customers. We think there are 4,000 fixed wireless providers. We’re number 4. We have 900 tower sites. Founded in 2011.

We measure traffic – 70 percent traffic comes from IX (MICE) / 80 percent of traffic comes from streaming video.

Netflix requires  2.5 to 3 Mbps – we have service packages that would allow for Netflix.

You don’t need a big package to stream video. Often the biggest bottleneck in the in-home wireless network.

I’m not aware of any application that requires Gig access aside from game updates

Cable rate hikes are a reality. Their video revenues are melting. There are so many competitors. Google TV is a disruptive technology. They sell at wholesale rates and make money on the ads.

Broadband is a utility.

We can get a gig to one customer without the same capital investment in infrastructure than other (wired) providers.

The state has spent $8 million in areas where we already have 25/3 access – that’s frustrating for us. Maybe there are better places to spend that money.

The problem is that our service is not considered broadband. We want to work with the legislature to help them understand our services.

We need a better picture of broadband in Minnesota. We need to look at 25/3 – not 10/1. We need to get feedback from more wireless options.

We have a 50 to 1 cost to deploy advantage – and we are faster. IN Kandiyohi – we put up 70 towers in 2 months. Our maintenance is lower cost too.

Our base package is $30/month

About the Kandiyohi Project

  • CTC tried to provide service in Kandiyohi but in the end it didn’t work.
  • We built 11 tower sites near the Lakes – we cover 70 percent of residents at 25/3 rates.

We use TV White space – especially as the equipment is getting better.

We think 10/1 is a reasonable broadband speed.

Minnesota needs to subsidize broadband in areas where TV White Spaces could work.

CAF II has two tiers – 25/3 and 10/1 – but they still consider broadband to be 10/1.

Dave Baker: what is our process to recognize these new technologies?
MAK: Including wireless is up to the legislators. Unfortunately Bernadine isn’t here – but she would insist that 10/1 isn’t good enough for rural areas.

We are OK with lower cost but we need access to meet speed goals – especially when we are working with public funding.

The technology has advanced. Speeds on fixed wireless are higher.

Dave Baker: If a customer that wants to choose a lower speed they should be able to choose. As we keep fighting for dollars – we might reach more people faster with other options. We are looking for feedback.

Paul Weirtz – we’re using CAF II in Wisconsin. People just want anything. They want tap water, not Perrioer.

we need better education on fixed wireless

there’s a place for all technologies

CAF II reverse auction – fixed wireless providers will be able to bid on that.

It’s a $2 billion for 10 years – provider can bid for spectrum. It’s only happening in areas where Price Cap Carriers didn’t take money.

Dave Baker: We want to see the office continue. Going to a meeting in Meeker County next week. We still have champions in place.

2018 topic discussion/work plan
Workgroup formation/meeting

Can we talk about changing definitions?

Last year we really focused on getting the fund funded. This year we want to focus on the future of broadband

List of topics for consideration:

  • Capital investment for fiber
  • Should we recommend another Task Force?
  • Future speakers such as Brad Finseth
  • Indian County Update
  • Fixed Wireless is eligible to apply for grants – the problem is the challenge process. We need to be aware of intended and unintended consequences.
  • What’s the need – do we need a carve out for funding for wireless?

Wireless –

Kandiyohi had a great that didn’t work out. My mission is to get broadband to places where it isn’t. The USDA/RUS would not provide funds for overbuild. It took years for people to realize that fixed wireless does work. We got funding for a middle mile project in round 2 and we were criticized. After years of overbuilding, we really are like the incumbent in some areas. Half of our people take 2.5Mbps or less and we don’t get complaints.

The lesson of the afternoon – fixed wireless is getting better and it even can be scaled to 100/20.

Was everyone OK with me saying 10/1 wasn’t enough?


  • Maybe we can travel in June.
  • Rooms already scheduled from March to May

Possible workgroups:

  1. Economic Impact
  2. Potential successor Task Force
  3. Technology Change – federal policy impact
  4. FirstNet
  5. State Policy – need to recognize the buzz that MN is creating

Groups met for a short time – Ideas

Going to Farmfest

  • Talk about 5G
  • Talk about fixed wireless
  • Talk about white spaces
  • Talk about IoT – rural version
  • Talk about cyber security
  • Visit lab in Northfield
  • See a Tesla
  • Visit the Weitz Center
  • Connect economic impact to schools & libraries
  • Look at hotspot check out
  • Childcare and telecommuting
  • Revenue loss due to lack of technology
  • Meet with NCAA outreach project
  • Talk about the OBD program
  • Do we need to start Legislative broadband committees
  • Do we need legislators on the Task Force
  • Next month we’ll hear about FirstNet with AT&T and the Sheriff.

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