“RDOF was a major fail” says MN Task Force member … we need to alert MN legislators

As promised, there’s more commentary coming on the RDOF results. And as a quick reminder – LTD was awarded nearly $312 million to build Gigabit broadband in Minnesota in the next 10 years. People are skeptical that this will happen, as MinnPost reports

In an interview, Corey Hauer, LTD Broadband’s CEO, said he was confident his company could grow fast and meet the challenge. But local competitors and broadband experts said they were concerned LTD could not deliver what it promised, especially since the company has focused primarily on wireless internet technology while it now promises fiber-optic connections.

The award came up at the last MN Broadband Task Forde meeting last Friday.

You can hear concern from at least one member about the ability of LTD (the big winner in Minnesota) to deploy the broadband that they have promised. The concern is multifaceted. Their primary concern with the federal funding is that it won’t happen. From the Task Force perspective, the greater concern is that legislators will assume that RDOF will serve the proposed areas and that therefore no further state funding is needed. An unintended consequence is that the promised funding might prevent other providers from going into those areas, companies that would have provided folks with speeds that would meet the MN broadband state goals. They are concerned that unlike what happens with Minnesota’s state program, the FCC will not follow through with oversight on provider performance.

Funny enough, an earlier iteration of the Broadband Task Force heard from LTD in February 2018. He spoke about their fixed wireless service – not fiber, which I think reflects the concerns that people have about LTD being able to fulfill the obligations it undertook through the RDOF application. They have a history of fixed wireless, not fiber. He also notes that speeds of 10/1 can be as welcome to some customers as 25/3. Again, this is from Feb 2018.

As you can hear, CEO Corey Hauser said that 80 percent of traffic comes from streamlining services. He spoke about the services they provided at the time:

  • 3 Mbps
  • 6 Mbps
  • 10 Mbps
  • 25 Mbps

(Presumably he is talking about download, since that was his focus.) He mentioned that Netflix usually required 2.5Mbps. He could only think of one use for Gig access – game updates. Then he outlines a number of applications and required speeds.

He spoke about cable companies and complaints about broadband pricing. And complaints about telecom broadband service in cities.

He spoke about utilities, building the case that a fixed wireless company has several options for broadband services. About minute 18:30 – he speaks about State funding for broadband – making the case that the State shouldn’t spend money “Cadillac” services when a lesser car will do. He’s annoyed that State funding has gone to overbuild areas where he already provides 25/3 services. He was annoyed because the services that he provided was not considered broadband by Minnesota statute. Annoyed at MN maps because they didn’t reflect his services.

He asks and answers: Why is fixed wireless best? Capital costs because he doesn’t have to spend money to reach every house until they want it. So a lower take rate isn’t a problem for LTD.

About minute 28:20, he speaks about TV White Spaces.

About min 29:42, he takes umbrage of the 25/3 speed goal as 10/1 is also a responsible service as compared to no service or satellite service. He also spoke about the CAF tiers – comparing the 25/3 and 10/1 tiers – saying both have their place.

It may be valuable to note that Reps Baker and Layman were in the meeting as well and clearly Rep Baker had been in earlier communication with LTD. It led to s discussion on government investing in technology that meets the needs today and in the future.

It would be great to see Minnesota get the upgrade that’s promised with RDOF funding – the concern is that it won’t happen and with a dibs on certain communities for 10 years, those communities are in danger of falling farther and farther behind.

This entry was posted in FCC, Funding, MN, Policy, Vendors, Wireless by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

3 thoughts on ““RDOF was a major fail” says MN Task Force member … we need to alert MN legislators

  1. There are plenty of fixed wireless solutions that are capable of providing gigabit speeds currently. The technology today can result in cheaper and quicker ways of deploying ultra high speed broadband. Airboxcanada.com

    • John that is completely untrue. All wireless technology provides shared bandwidth utilizing some method of duplexing. Most use either FDD(frequency) or TDD(time). Either way the user receives a slot for download and upload which is shared with multiple CPEs. This means the higher number of users the lower the actual throughput. This problem is further compounded by other factors like line of sight, frequency in use, rain fade and so on. Fiber doesn’t have any of these issues

  2. Well once again we agree to disagree. The first issue with fiber is the years it takes to deploy and compared to the cost of a FWA solution is a fraction of the cost. Secondly duplexing doesn’t affect the end users if the network is planned correctly. It’s probably best to wait until the incumbents get around to rolling out fiber.

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