On Tuesday, 16 people met for the MN Broadband Coalition. It started with a congrats to everyone for $40 million for broadband grants in the legislature. It was nice to see in the introductions how members are planning and preparing to apply for grants (state and other) to extend broadband in the state. On the one hand, it’s great to see the interest and enthusiasm; on the other hand, it’s clear that communities need even more support to get broadband to everyone.
It was nice to see an array of members including many communities or association of communities and providers. People mentioned upcoming events (will post details when I get them) and/or mentioned that broadband has a place at the various annual meetings.
They did well with the legislature because we all worked from the same fact sheet. They had a unified voice. The work they did in 2018 built up a momentum and that helped. They had broadband bipartisan support. We got early media coverage. Getting letters to the editors of local papers was helpful.
Outside of the Coalition, the legislation passed Telecommute Forward, which is a great opportunity for communities. It’s a reason for many communities to talk to the Office of Broadband. For communities with broadband, it’s a chance to promote themselves. For communities without broadband, it’s a reason to rally.
Right now Minnesota is known as a leader for our broadband situation. It would be nice to build on that.
Plan for the future
April and May revenues for the State have been ahead of forecast. If there is a surplus, they will go for it. Even if they don’t get the funding, they build a momentum.
There were bills that were introduced related to policies. They consulted with people and decided not to pursue broadband policy changes:
- The challenge process
- Helping tribal areas and places without the tax base to raise 50 percent match
The new broadband Task Force might be a good forum to introduce policy. There are lots of events that the coalition could attend – for example the fall broadband conference. The hope is to keep the buzz going.