Today the MN Broadband Task Force got through two of the subcommittee groups report drafts. And they heard from a Discussion of Electric Cooperative Easements for Broadband from MREA (Dan Lipschultz) and (MCCA) Tony Mendoza. It’s interesting to see the focus on a very provider-focused policy detail juxtaposed to discussion of broadband grants, budget and speeds.
The group seemed united in waiting to keep the broadband recommendations high level. There are three subcommittees in the Task Force; each wrote a version or their version of the report including their separate recommendations. One subcommittee went into great detail of their report which spurred discussion from the others. Then there was an interlude on easements. Then the second group gave a very high level look (less than 10 minutes) of their report and the third subcommittee will get an opportunity at another time.
The idea is that the three version will be merged into one and apparently the merging will begin immediately.
You can see it all in the video:
I tried to take notes but because of how I have to record the meeting, I have to go old school and use a pencil. These are the best I can decipher. For reader continuity, I’m going to pull out the PPT slides from the Electric Cooperative Easements at the end.
The plan is to go through the three reports and more further discussion offline on how to resolve any recommendation conflicts.
From the MN Model (much discussion centered around a chart so I’ve included an image)
- The biggest challenge is funding – we have asking for $120 million (biennium)
- The numbers of unserved in the in the chart is difference that what has been used in other places
- They are aiming at 2022 goals
- I’m afraid if we upgrade to 2026 goals that some households will get skipped, which is what happened in South Dakota when they moved their speed goals and providers chose to work to upgrade folks at higher speeds that reach the worst served households
- The principle is to focus on getting everyone to 25/3
- Funding is the top goal because legislators won’t understand a speed change
- While average cost per house noted in chart is $5.527 – providers are finding that number is closer to $8-9,000 for hard to serve homes
- Maybe we need one chart looking at speeds to 25/3 and one for 100/20
- People who currently don’t get 25/3 will be happy with 25/3; they don’t care if their connection scales to 100/20
- Need to look at ongoing investment
On speed goals – should we look at 100/100
- We’ve only been together a year – we didn’t have time to get into speed goals
- The citation given talks about several states aiming higher. We could aim to be right behind those states; it seems their goals are aspirational.
- Aren’t we already asking providers to scale grant funded projects to 100/100?
- The letter from the mayors was not strategic – one mayor was from Eagan where they have plenty of dark fiber
- The practical speed goals are changing whether we make the change or not – technology is changing and families need faster speeds
- Adding a new speed goal makes the report too noisy
- If two years too soon to ask people to scale their grant-funded projects to 100/100?
- Speed goal really isn’t the focus – symmetry is. Symmetry changes how and what gets installed. The technology has surpassed the 2022 goal and COVID has shown that it doesn’t meet current needs.
Technology and Barrier Reports
Report includes a glossary-like look at technologies
Barriers include technology, policy and people
- Focus on unserved vs underserved homes but new grants must meet 100/20 goals
- Base funding
- Encouraging the State (and various agencies) to work together and with ISPs to create a plan.
Discussion of Electric Cooperative Easements for Broadband from MREA (Dan Lipschultz) and (MCCA) Tony Mendoza