Sen Klobuchar team talks to Windom about broadband, housing, transportation and childcare (video included)

 There were about a dozen people at the meeting in Windom on Dec 17, in part because the meeting in Mankato went so well that they decided not to have a double header. The conversation extends beyond broadband. I only took notes on the broadband portions but they also discussed housing, transportation and childcare.

Intro on broadband from Chuck Ackman from Klobuchar’s Office:

Broadband was infrastructure (historically) until the Senator realized it’s a rural issue. So in 2016, it came to Chuck.

Working on Deployment, data and mapping – the details of broadband. We are working on getting the facts to make better decisions. Minnesota already does a good job with broadband data – we’re looking to bring that MN model to the rest of the country.

Farming has gotten very high tech. We toured a robotic dairy far. The internet got cut – which meant the cows weren’t going to get milked.

Notes from participants and questions:

Rumor has it there’s a online portal to get rights of way permission from Wisconsin’s version of MNDOT. It seems permits can be an issue. There’s a backlog and it depends on the location of the need for permit is determining the impact on slow down.

The FAA can be an issue for getting permits. We needed a permit to remove rock from a local airport and that was going to take 3-5 years if they approved it.

Local control of permits and control of local assets would be helpful.

Windomnet – business is still growing. We have worked with other providers in the area to help

Julie Foote:

MVTV covers 30,000 miles in southern MN with fixed wireless. We don’t go into areas that don’t need us. We are working ourselves out of a community. We bring fixed wireless into a community (25 Mbps for residential). That helps to build demand and we hope they get fiber. We will always be there for the folks outside of towns. And we have fiber to our towers.

We are a member-owned cooperative. So we strive for equal service for all. We are working on being LTE capable.

Mapping is one of our struggles.

Attendee

Rural Cottonwood County – the problem with wireless is that line of sight is tough there. I live near Westbrook. I can get services from Woodstock I get 10 Mbps from CenturyLink. I had 1.5 Mbps – I kept it because their brought fiber to the node. They serve 150 homes in the areas with the new fiber. I am 4400 ft from the node, so I get 10 Mbps. If I were 4000 I could get 20 Mbps. The wireless is usually faster but less reliable.

What would it take to get broadband to everyone?

We need funding to help serve the hard to serve areas. We’d nee dot partner up with a private entity to get state funding.

It’s hard for us because we are a municipality.

Here are notes prior to the meeting. So this is the aspirational list of attendees and topics – but sometimes the planned conversation is at least as important as the actual conversation.

  • Participants:
    • Serge, Phillips, Minnesota Department of Transportation
    • Minnesota Association of Counties Representative (T)
    • Larry Anderson, County Commissioner, Cottonwood County and Public Works Director Nick Kilsch)
    • Nick Kilsch, Public Works Director, Cottonwood County
    • Steve Nasby, City Administrator, City of Windom
    • Drew Hage, Development Director, City of Windom
    • Kate Gentry, Executive Director, Windom Chamber of Commerce
    • Representative from Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (T)
    • Ann Treacy, Blandin Foundation
    • Brent Christensen, President & CEO, Minnesota Telecom Alliance
    • Representative from Windom Net (T)
    • Representative from Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition (T)

Proposed Meeting Format: (one hour roundtable discussion/ tour)

  • Welcome from staff/ acknowledgements of VIP attendees (3 min)
  • Video message from Sen. Klobuchar (5 min)
  • DC Policy Update (10 min)
  • Roundtable Discussion with Participants (35 min)
  • Wrap-up by staff (1 min)

Legislative efforts:

Transportation

  • FAST Act
  • BUILD, INFRA, and CIG Grant Programs
  • Comprehensive Infrastructure Package
  • BRIDGE Act

Housing

  • Section 4. Program Increased Funding
  • Section 8. Program
  • HOME Program
  • LIHTC
  • Community Development Block Grants
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program

Broadband

  • Office for Rural Broadband Act
  • Broadband Mapping Act
  • Broadband Interagency Coordination Act
  • Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act
  • Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act

Childcare

  • Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act
  • Child Care for Working Families Act
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant
  • 2018 Head Start Funding increase
  • Head Start for School Readiness Act

Klobuchar Staff Participants:

  • Rommel Lee, Outreach Team
  • Kurt Johnson, Outreach Team
  • Chuck Ackman, Outreach Team
This entry was posted in Community Networks, MN, Policy 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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