Today a bill was introduced in the Senate (SF4472) to modify the existing Border to Border grant program.
First change: it says that 50 percent of funds must go to unserved areas. Here’s the definition of unserved and underserved from the Office of Broadband Development…
An unserved area is an area of Minnesota in which households or businesses lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds that meet the FCC threshold of 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload. An underserved area is an area of Minnesota in which households or businesses do receive service at or above the FCC threshold but lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds 100 megabits per second download and 20 megabits per second upload.
Second change: it opens up broadband options to include “nonwired and other innovative broadband technologies.” I do not know if this includes mobile and satellite but it seems like they would both qualify as nonwired.
Here’s the text of the bill…
A bill for an act relating to broadband; specifying grant amount for unserved areas; amending Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 116J.396, subdivision 2.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 116J.396, subdivision 2, is amended to read:
(a) Money in the account may be used only:
(1) for grant awards made under section 116J.395, including costs incurred by the Department of Employment and Economic Development to administer that section;
(2) to supplement revenues raised by bonds sold by local units of government for broadband infrastructure development; or
(3) to contract for the collection of broadband deployment data from providers and the creation of maps showing the availability of broadband service.
(b) 50 percent of the money in the account must be used for grants to unserved areas. Notwithstanding the limitations of this subdivision or section 116J.395, the commissioner
may award grants with the money allocated under this paragraph for nonwired and other innovative broadband technologies to deploy broadband to unserved areas in Minnesota. This paragraph expires when the commissioner certifies that there are no longer unserved areas in Minnesota.