Today was the last meeting of third iteration of the MN Broadband Task Force. The first Task Force (under Gov Pawlenty) had the onerous task of creating something from nothing. They came back with recommendation to create legislation that would set a goal for broadband connectivity and the means of measure it. This latest iteration upgraded those speed goals and encouraged the institution of both the Office of Broadband Development and Minnesota Broadband grant program. The Task Force does not work in a vacuum, we have some dedicated providers, engaged legislators and the Blandin Foundation who have kept the broadband fires burning but the the Task Force has been in instrumental creating what people are calling the Minnesota Model for how to be broadband right.
At the meeting there was clearly momentum to continue to down the path for better broadband and continue with a new Task Force for the new Administration. There was much praise of Danna Mackenzie and Diane Wells at the Office of Broadband Development. And there was a focus on the 2022 goals of ubiquitous broadband coverage at speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. And while that goal is clearly breathing down our neck, the 2026 goals of 100/200 are already nipping at our heels too.
During the meeting the State surplus of $1.5 billion was announced – at another meeting. It would be nice to see some of that go into broadband. The Task Force was sketching out a three-year plan to cost of $70 million per biennium to meet half of the need (assuming 50 percent match from private or local funders) to get to the 2022 goals. It would be awesome to see us leapfrog those goals and dive straight into our future with an eye on 2026 goals!