The MN Broadband Task Force met today. They heard from Steve Hill from the Satellite Communications and Broadcasting Association (SBCA) and from Brent Legg and Ashley Hitt, at Connected Nation about mapping; they also got updates from the subcommittees. You can see the video below. It’s MacGuyver at it’s best with my phone streaming the computer so you may get background noise.
Steve from SBCA talked about the upgraded satellites from 2017 and then the more recent push for lower geo satellites. They are not fixed satellites they rotate with the Earth so the idea is that they will be more accessible and closer. They need to launch 12,000 satellites for full coverage in the US. And unfortunately while download speeds may increase significantly, the upload speeds are not expected to surpass 3-10 Mbps. If you are interested in being a beta tester for satellite, you can sign up from their website. (I wasn’t able to find the link but I found an article that confirmed the opportunity.
The Connected Nation folks gave a demo of their most recent interactive maps. They noted that Minnesota is the state with the longest ruining mapping relationship with Connected Nation. That means they get good engagement from providers and providers are used to working with them. Also providers that do not help with mapping are not eligible for Border to Border state grants; nor may they challenge projects.
Connected Nation works with providers and validates the info they received so they encourage anyone with issues to contact them or the Office Development and they will follow up. They recognize the limitation of the current 477 Form, which counts any census tract with one served household as a served area. The next iteration of the national mapping will not do that but it won’t be ready for quite a while.
Finally, the subcommittees gave updates:
- Digital Inclusion: The will be collecting stories for the annual reporting with Ann Treacy (me). They have been refining the recommendation they have already mentioned in earlier meetings. They have especially working on finding for schools and libraries.
- Minnesota Model: Funding is the top priority since Minnesota already has a model that many states envy and currently no funding for 2021. They have decided not to introduce new speed goals because there are no many communities that don’t meet the present goals and creating a new goal would leave them falling farther behind.
- Barriers to Technology: They are also interested in stories to determine where the barriers and successes are. They want to make sure to tell the story of cooperative providers in Minnesota and they too are grappling with the discussion of speed goals.
There was also a quick discussion on the use of CARES Act funding for broadband. Some counties and local governments are using CARES money for broadband but the State isn’t because they are reading the guidelines that say the projects must be completed by the end of the year and that would be very difficult to accomplish. Some States are using CARES funding for broadband.