MN Broadband Task Force Meeting notes: FirstNet and Internet of Things

Today the Task Force learned about FirstNet and the Internet of Things (IoT). Both made the case that the need for better broadband throughout the state to take advantage of improved safety communication and to take advantage of the IoT. The speaker pointed out that most IoT applications require narrowband access – but narrowband access requires the back haul of broadband.

The Task Force also talked about their final report. There was some discussion to create a roadmap to lead Minnesota to successfully accomplish the 2026 goals. (Learn more from the handouts.)

Below are full notes and video – a warning that I had a terrible time with the video. Not sure if the problem was the network, my phone or most likely a combination of both!

Full notes

Mike Win is the new Task Force member – he is with Communication Workers of America – but not able to make it today.

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. FirstNet Panel

  • Sheriff Richard Stanek, Hennepin County Sheriff; FirstNet board member

Mpls police officer, served in the legislature. First Board member.

Introduces the First Net memer

AT&T’s job is to build the Public Safety Network we need.

2018 Priorities

  • Expand Network through buildout of state RANs and Band 14 nationwide
  • Test current/future network features in Innovation & Testing Lab
  • Grow Applications Ecosystem for public safety
  • Launch FirstNet Core – March 2018

My job is to make sure this public safety network is built in a timely, cost-effective way and meets our needs.

Handheld portable radio is one network

MN did a great job with an interoperable radio system – but MN didn’t have the necessary broadband.

We just launched text-friendly 911

We need a network for emergencies – such as the 35 bridge collapse. First Responders need bandwidth – but the public is also trying to use the network to communicate.

  • Corey Draack, AT&T

We have done some FirstNet testing in this area.

Each state opted in – we were able to work within our network.

We have invested over $1B in mobile network in MN. This is a great opportunity to work on specific needs of the state and our tradtional build for customers. This is an added layer of investment.

It’s a 25 year agreement with a 5 year build plan.

Our focus right now is underserved parts of the state. We are deploying 20 new macro sites.

Those sites are focused on FirstNet – but there will be a secondary ability for commercial use.

FirstNet has dedicated bandwidth and will be high priority.

Band 14 – a 20 megahertz block with low band spectrum.

There isn’t a greenfield build because of the AT&T network. Band 14 is being deployed to hit high use areas.

Getting FirstNet was like wining the spectrum auction.

Two goals/programs:

  • Expand coverage
  • Added Band 14 to existing network.

FirstNet is the largest public-private partnership in the history of the country.

Band 14 will require new devices.

About the trials:

  • Just testing in St Cloud with 11 sites. Each site needed new equipment. The test passed and it’s not ready to deploy.
  • Just launched enhanced packet core. Separate hardware for FirstNet – separates them from commercial traffic.
  • Had multiple devices in the park with the Super Bowl and did 500 tests – great way to test big use experience.

In rural areas – we are looking for partners to work with us to increase bandwidth to all areas. A good partner/candidate is

  • Melinda Miller, Department of Public Safety

ARMER Is still our gold standard for voice.

What is FirstNet? Another cell service option

  • Added benefits – priority, preemption, dedicate public safety support
  • Opted in Oct 4, 2017
  • FirstNet built with AT&T
  • The federal government had adopted the title of “FirstNet Network Responder Authority”

With the new network – we can get data and video

A lot of money is going into public safety research

Coverage Analysis

Wireless and wireline go together – you can’t have wireless without wireline


  • Credentialing
  • Local Control Policy
  • SOP for emergency uplifting of priority
  • Bring your own device
  • Interoperability between applications and carriers

We are talking about a user group in Minnesota

Public Safety Apps from AT&T

  • We have some situation awareness – like mapping out “pictures” on an ipad to help develop strategy.
  • Security is a top concern – everything is encrypted.
  • Security was a key point in the RFP

What about rural buildout?

Focusing on the whole state. We have the traditional build and priorities and it meshes well with FirstNet plans. We are working on small cell approach in highly populated areas.

The state marked some areas where we really needed help

Can you share info on your plans with someone like the OBD to make sure we don’t have duplicative efforts and reduce overbuild?

We do share maps with OBD -and they share with us.

Question – how many potential subscriber are in MN? What will cost be?

Public Safety does have to buy subscriptions – but it’s less than what they are paying now. Also they get benefits.

$35/device – is cost to Henn County. Cost was a priority.

Everyone has opted into FirstNet – it’s up to each department who they want to choose for communication provider.

Many EMT have multiple mobile providers.

FirstNet isn’t a company it’s the governance structure.

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Workgroup

Bernadine introduces the idea of a report that will ask/answer: what will it take for MN to achieve its 2026 goals?

Perhaps we can fit some of this into the report – the report needs to say where we come from (accomplishments)… This seems like the longer term play part of the report. This is the report for the next Governor and Legislature. If we focus on 2026 – we might miss an opportunity

State Policy Workgroup:

Grants – bipartisan bill s have been introduced. $30M recommended by Gov. $51M in bills. Seems like it’s stimulating activity. There’s a factsheet from the MN Rural Broadband Coalition.

Bonding for fiber – hasn’t been done in the past. Some counties are bonding. Should the state think about bonding for fiber? There was a legal opinion a while back – someone is trying to track it down. It’s a position paper by senate council – need to serve a public purpose, it’s origin is land-related. It was maybe Peter Watson who lead it. There have been attempts in the past – but Senate Counsel has offered recommendations. IN some years bonding has been used for cash.

Mapping – national bills have been introduced to add wireless to maps. The issue is complicated because there’s no regulation in reporting. Minnesota’s maps are very good. Connected Nation does the maps. Recommendation – keep 3% of Border to Border budget focused on mapping – unless/until national mapping take over. Connected Nation could be a speaker at a Task Force meeting. We should have a meeting that looks closer at mapping.

Monitoring bills and benchmarking – Many states are looking at what Minnesota is doing – with grants and task force. Action items: talked about having various speakers on mapping and state regulatory issues. Looking at other state legislation.

Successor to the Task Force – this is a big issue – and ties into Bernadine’s proposal. Action item: Look into having Joanna Dornfeld could speak to the group.
It would be nice to look at what is making Minnesota  leader. The Task Force is part of the special sauce.
This is a great chance to create the next generation task force type group.

I am reluctant to tell the next governor what he should do.
We could recommend that the Task Force be created in law.

It needs to be a take stock report. This report really has an audience of one – the next governor.

Are there any issues we’re not addressing that we should?
Talking about what counts for broadband.

—- Technologies

Last year we talked about 5G, wireless, satellite. We have some of the info from last year’s meeting. We talked about some other topics for this year:

  • Telehealth
  • Visit a cable head site
  • Bitcoin – maybe we could talk about blockchain first

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Cybersecurity Update from Minnesota IT Services

  • Daniel from MultiTech

Multi Tech provides equipment that connects computers and now IoT

The market is becoming more vertical.

Why do you connect things? Save money, create addition value or stay out of jail.

IoT Applications are being developed

  • Health care
  • Energy management
  • Agriculture

IoT device average data consumption

  • 4% >100Mb
  • 11% >3Mb <10Mb
  • 75% <1Mb

The speed of the amount of data consumed is growing and growing

You cannot have low power assets living on batteries for years that consume broadband amounts of data on their own

Low Power Wide Access

  • Unlicensed
  • Licensed
  • AT&T created a network for things only (LTEM)

Narrowband IoT is in the works too – smartphones don’t see it – things do.

LoRa – Long Range

  • Uses free to use unlicensed
  • Long range and low power
  • Robust communication
  • High accuracy localization and ranging
  • Improved network capacity
  • 57 announced public network operations

LPWA (Low Power Wide Are

  • Operate on batteries for 7-10 yrs
  • Extreme low cost to buy and operation
  • Exceptional in-building penetration
  • A few kilo-bytes of data per day
  • Easily to a sensors & assets
  • Secure
  • Speed of growth is taking off

LPWA Use Cases

  • Smart City
  • Precision Ag
  • Energy
  • Industrial
  • Buildings

Broadband WAN connects the LANs

Ag Use Case

  • Grain drying
  • Tank Level
  • Building verification
  • Immigration monitoring
  • Equipment monitoring
  • Livestock monitoring
  • Perimeter control
  • Fertilizer/Moisture monitoring & immigration control

Without broadband, farmers in MN can’t compete with farmers in WI with the advanced in IoT and precision ag. Narrowband doesn’t work well without broadband backbone!

Where do the farmers get trained to use these tools?

There are technology integration companies – Bayer, Monsanto

A supplier to digikey.

Big competitor? Digi International

We are becoming more of a solutions provider. We support applications of others.

Here’s a video that talk about these issues too:

Questions: What are the policy implications?
We need more broadband to offer folks our narrowband applications.
Talk about how to use those unlicensed bands.

Latency can be an issue with IoT – think about driverless cars or remote surgery. Broadband matters.

2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Workgroup Report Back

Next meeting – May 10 – how can we get more voices into our 2026 goals.

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. 2018 Report Outline

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.  Next Meeting and Wrap-up

2 thoughts on “MN Broadband Task Force Meeting notes: FirstNet and Internet of Things

  1. Thanks for the update, Ann!


    Joseph J. Gould, MPA (218) 259-4342

    On Tue, Apr 3, 2018, 6:19 PM Blandin on Broadband wrote:

    > Ann Treacy posted: “Today the Task Force learned about FirstNet and the > Internet of Things (IoT). Both made the case that the need for better > broadband throughout the state to take advantage of improved safety > communication and to take advantage of the IoT. The speaker point” >

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