MN Broadband Task Force September meeting: final report is finalized

The Task Force met today. There are some good notes – and discussion on the CAF II auction. Mostly they went over their final report. Here are the recommendations:

Policy Recommendations:

  1. Fund the Office of Broadband Development through the base budget at levels sufficient for it to meet its statutory mandates and create an OBD operating fund to advance and promote programs and projects to promote broadband adoption and use.
  2. Provide on-going biennial funding of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grants Program at $69.7 million per biennia until the state achieve its broadband speeds goals
  3. Continue to understand the advances in the technology that will drive both the demand for better broadband access and that will enable the delivery if the broadband access to its citizens
  4. Provide direct funding to the DEED for broadband mapping.
  5. Establish a legislative cybersecurity commission, whose scope of work includes: information -sharing between policy-makers, state agencies, and private industry related to Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, cybersecurity workforce issues and emerging technology to: (a) develop legislative to support and strengthen Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, and (b) provide input or recommendations related to developing a multi-year strategic plan to secure Minnesota’s IT Environments.
  6. Adequately fund the Telecommunications Access Equity Aid and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid.
  7. Continue a MN Broadband Task Force as a resource to the Governor and the Legislature on the broadband policy with a broad representation of perspectives and experiences, including provider, community business and labor interests.

 

Notes from the Office of Broadband Development

New Gigabit maps – not ready for public yet but shows progress of broadband in the state. Communities with 25 percent gigabit coverage. We wanted to show that gigabit was becoming available in rural towns and cities.

Conversation with different USDA reps – people are asking about the Minnesota program. So that’s positive. State mapping is one things they are looking at. We are looking at census block level granularity.

Danna is part of the BDAC process. There was a meeting to finalize municipal and state model codes. We may see that come back – although there was no consensus on the state model code.

Working on the Fall broadband conference. (Learn more https://wp.me/p3if7-4E8) There’s a good line up of communities working with providers.

Fond du Lac is working on a community connect project. Next year they will be working on the MN funded project.

What’s happening with the OBD now that there isn’t grant funding?

We are spending time talking to people and learning about what the next steps should be. We spoke with the cable folks last week. We spoke with MN Association of Townships – national and state. Answered a lot of questions on the MN model. We are attending the PUC Frontier meetings. We went to Harmony Telephone and Electric Cooperative to deploy new broadband in an underserved location. Went to the Aspen Institute program on Communications – 35 people talking about telecom policy. Education Super Highway came back to MN to help school – they spoke with charter schools.

Dick Sjoberg – Sen Mark Johnson may stop by to say hello. He’s a ally of the broadband programs.

Diane Wells on CAF II Auction

There’s a handout with results. Announced Aug 25. It looks at the annual $3.8 million per year for 10 years.

MidCo purchased a fixed wireless business (VIsimat?). The funding they get will be used mostly for fixed wireless.

When they bid – the provider had to say the speeds they would offer.

LTD broadband is the only provider who gave based speed of 25/3. The

What is the definition of location? One location equals one house or business.

CAF II Auction winners and area in Minnesota:

  • Broadband Corp – in South Central MN – they need to get ETC status from PUC for voice coverage
  • CTC – out of Brainerd serving Aitkin
  • Farmers/Federated – SE Minnesota
  • Fond du Lac –
  • Garden Valley – NW MN
  • Halstad
  • Interstate – Western MN
  • Jaguar –  around Mankato – they need to get ETC status from PUC for voice coverage
  • Johnson – Remer MN
  • LTD – Wilmar & southern MN
  • MidCo – North & near St Joseph’s – all over – they cobbled together old cable areas
  • Paul Bunyan – NW MN
  • Roseau – Northern MN – they need to get ETC status from PUC for voice coverage
  • WCTA – Wadena/Staples
  • Wikstrom – NW corner

How did some state do so well?

Missouri has been very active. Kicked off efforts with electric cooperatives. They were ready to go.

Oklahoma – more cooperatives that were ready.

Now they just need to do the next application and need to get ETC designation if they need it.

From MVTV – high cost support was $200/ “normal” was “$50” / but now they are getting $12.

The OBD will track this. If there’s a future Task Force is would be nice for them to keep abreast on this too.

PUBLIC COMMENT ON MICE

MICE is a carrier exchange point and one of the advantages is that traffic stays in Minnesota among peers. There are providers much as Amazon and Yahoo. There are more than 90 members.

It serves lots of people in rural Minnesota. The exchange of traffic is free. It would be nice to have large MN enterprises on here as well, such as Thompson.

There’s about 400 Gig of traffic being exchanged. A lot of network providers are connected – although the largest providers seen disinterested.

There are other exchange points in others areas of the US. MICE is doing well. It is unique as a cooperative.

The members benefit when content providers such as Google join – since transport is free.

Located in the 511 building but with remote locations as well.

DISCUSSION ON THE DRAFT REPORT:

Policy Recommendations:

Fund the Office of Broadband Development through the base budget at levels sufficient for it to meet its statutory mandates and create an OBD operating fund to advance and promote programs and projects to promote broadband adoption and use.

Notes: None

Provide on-going biennial funding of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grants Program at $69.7 million per biennia until the state achieve its broadband speeds goals

Notes: The issue is that the CAF II and A-CAM funding included in the calculation does not necessarily require the provide to meet state goals. Can we add a drop notes that explains that?

Continue to understand the advances in the technology that will drive both the demand for better broadband access and that will enable the delivery if the broadband access to its citizens

Establish a legislative cybersecurity commission, whose scope of work includes: information -sharing between policy-makers, state agencies, and private industry related to Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, cybersecurity workforce issues and emerging technology to: (a) develop legislative to support and strengthen Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, and (b) provide input or recommendations related to developing a multi-year strategic plan to secure Minnesota’s IT Environments.

Provide direct funding to the DEED for broadband mapping.

Note: move this up to #3

Review and consider state general obligation bonding as a possible additional financing tool to facilitate fiber optic cable deployment and achieve the state’s broadband speed goals.

Note: Do we even want to add this? Some legislators might decide that GO bonding is a better way to go than state funds. And with bonds – there’s some government control at some point. Also -this is where the trend is going but it hasn’t gone there yet. Maybe we’d be better off to mention Dig Once.
BUT this is a chance to introduce the idea – especially to new legislators and it’s a good way to get the conversation started.

To get the money we want over and over again seems optimistic – and that may not continue to happen. GO bonds may be more realistic.

Adequately fund the Telecommunications Access Equity Aid and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid.

Note: Would it make sense to refer to the MN Library Association or a school group rather than be specific? Or maybe mention those associations in the report and kept to briefer here. Maybe we can change “adequately” to fully.

Continue a MN Broadband Task Force as a resource to the Governor and the Legislature on the broadband policy with a broad representation of perspectives and experiences, including provider, community business and labor interests.

Note: Add a dig once recommendation – maybe use some examples. Also add a note in the report that it has been recommended in the past.

PAGE BY PAGE NOTES – I’m including anything that seems substantive, not wordsmithing

Pg 3 (Executive Summary)

  • use bold type to emphasize increate in broadband coverage
  • a lot of credit has been given to impact of grants. Can we mention private and other public investment as well?

Pg 6

  • need to change speed goal to reflect the fact that it was originally 10-20 Mbps down and 5-10 Mbps up

Pg 8

  • when discussing the grant program – let’s add the fact that there’s a $5M cap on grants.

Pg 10

  • tighten up some comparisons
  • note that 25/3 is speed goal for 2022 and 100/20 is speed goal for 2026

Pg 11

  • Add footnote detailing the fact that CAF II and A-CAM do not require providers to build to state speed goals

Map pages

  • Is there a map with just fixed wireless coverage

Pg 17

  • Highlight the MN model. Find a way to make the point that other states are looking at what MN is doing.

Pg 18

  • Did Swift County use revenue or GO bonds?
  • We could add a footnote on the constitutional difference in allotted bonds for county vs state

Pg 21

  • Need to recognize that fiber is an integral part of any broadband connection – except satellite – do we need to go into detail
  • It would be helpful to people who don’t understand technology
  • We can’t say fixed wireless is more expensive that fiber – it can be cheaper albeit for lower speeds
  • We need to make the point that broadband is for more than Netflix

Pg 23

  • Make examples less urban focused
  • Will rural areas get 5G – towns might; farmland won’t. All rural isn’t the same.
  • Need to play up the need for fiber as backhaul to support wireless

Pg 24

  • Addressing satellite
  • Are caps for satellite slower – if so let’s add that
  • Do we want to include into

Pg 25

  • Need to define TV White Space
  • Are we going to discuss cost? Maybe we could do a table of selected rates. The difficulty with a table is that there are so many components of pricing.

Pg 26

  • An opportunity to promote human side of cybersecurity

Pg 28

  • Include info on precision ag the TF visited
  • Look at blockchain and government integration based on IL – maybe use an example

Pg 32

  • Need to spell out category two services

Pg 33-34

  • Do we really want to talk about general obligation bonds? It was introduced after the conference committee.
    This might be too detailed. Maybe we could share the white paper instead.
    Maybe pare this down to a couple of paragraphs
    Could be useful to hear the Lori Swanson view
    Do we want to be careful about not highlighting the counties’ ability to do bonding
  • We need to make clear that broadband providers would not provide incorrect information. The problem with getting mapping info is that everyone collect data a little bit differently.
    In MN we has a way (trust/compliance) that creates better maps than most. We want to continue that.

Pg 36

  • Talk about meeting broadband goals

Letters

  • Includes letter from MN Broadband Coalition
  • Consider including letter from Jackie Edwards

VOTING ON THE REPORT

Unanimous agreement on the report

No future meetings planned – but a celebration in the works – probably in October, maybe with the Governor

This entry was posted in 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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