Laws and Policies Affecting Broadband Access in Minnesota

The Network for Public Health recently posted a report on State Laws and Policies Affecting Broadband Access in Eight Northern Region States – including Minnesota.

Here is what they say specifically about Minnesota. Because tables don’t always transfer well here, I’ve manipulated the format a little but not the content…

Minnesota

Broadband Definition

  • “Broadband” or “broadband service” means any service providing advanced telecommunications capability and Internet access with transmission speeds that, at a minimum, meet the Federal Communications Commission definition for broadband. MINN. STAT. § 116J.39

State Leadership Body/Initiative

  • The Office of Broadband Development
    The Office of Broadband Development is established to serve as the central broadband planning body for the state and shall remain in existence until the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development certifies that the state has met the broadband goals established in MINN. STAT. § 237.012. MINN. STAT. § 116J.39
  • State Statutory Goals
    It is a state goal that all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to highspeed broadband by 2022, among other goals. MINN. STAT. § 237.012

Statutory Funding
Border-to-Border Broadband Fund

  • Administration. The border-to-border broadband fund is administered by the Department of Employment and Economic Development. MINN. STAT. § 116J.396
  • Eligible Expenditures. Grants may be awarded under this section to fund the acquisition and installation of middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure that support broadband service scalable to speeds of at least 100 megabits per second download and 100 megabits per second upload. MINN. STAT. § 116J.395
  • Eligible Applicants. Eligible applications for grants include: (1) an incorporated business or a partnership; (2) a political subdivision; (3) an Indian tribe; (4) a Minnesota nonprofit organization; (5) a Minnesota cooperative association; and (6) a Minnesota limited liability corporation. MINN. STAT. § 116J.395

Preemptive/Restrictive Laws Regarding Municipal Broadband

Procedural Barriers

  • A municipality seeking to construct a new exchange where an exchange already exists shall not be authorized to do so unless 65 percent of those voting thereon vote in favor of the undertaking. MINN. STAT. § 237.19
  • The council of a municipality shall have the power to improve, construct, extend, and maintain facilities for Internet access and other communications purposes, if the council finds that: (i) the facilities are necessary to make available Internet access or other communications services that are not and will not be available through other providers or the private market in the reasonably foreseeable future; and (ii) the service to be provided by the facilities will not compete with service provided by private entities. MINN. STAT. § 429.021

Other

“Dig Once” Efforts

  • The Office of Broadband Development shall, in collaboration with the Department of Transportation and private entities, encourage and coordinate “dig once” efforts for the planning, relocation, installation, or improvement of broadband conduit within the right-of-way in conjunction with any current or planned construction, including, but not limited to, trunk highways and bridges. MINN. STAT. § 116J.391

Fiber Collaboration Database

  • The purpose of the fiber collaboration database is to provide broadband providers with advance notice of upcoming Department of Transportation construction projects so that they may notify the department of their interest in installing broadband infrastructure within the right-of-way during construction in order to minimize installation costs. MINN. STAT. § 161.462

Creation of Broadband Deployment Maps

  • The Office of Broadband Development shall oversee the creation of state and county maps showing the availability of broadband service at various upload and download speeds throughout Minnesota. MINN. STAT. § 116J.397

I see that they have the 2022 state speed goals but have missed the 2026, which are 100 Mbps down and 20 up.

The report also provides some easy ways to compare us with our neighbors; we’re not number one.

Also they frame broadband from a healthcare perspective, which is helpful in making the case that broadband is a solution to other problems – not a problem in and of itself…

Lack of broadband access at home can serve to exacerbate disparities in other social determinants of health, such as by limiting educational and employment opportunities. Lack of broadband access can limit online educational opportunities for students living in rural and underserved areas. With online curricula and resources being increasingly part of the educational experience, this puts many rural students at a significant disadvantage. Lack of broadband access can also limit employment opportunities. It may be difficult to draw businesses to communities lacking broadband access, and job-seekers also face logistical challenges in looking for work or applying for jobs online.

Connectivity also plays an important role in healthcare. In addition to accessing clinical services online via telemedicine, individuals can learn about health topics online, access their electronic health records, and learn about programs and opportunities to improve their health. Individuals without broadband access at home may not be able to take full advantage of these opportunities for remote care and health promotion.

 

This entry was posted in Healthcare, MN, Research, Rural 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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