2020 Broadband Task Force Meeting: Plans for 2021

The group heard from the Office of Broadband Development about the MN state grants announced yesterday and sources of federal funding. Then they talked about topics they wanted to address throughout the year.

Big topics:

  • The 2020 Broadband Task Force Report is out.
  • The Governor’s budget includes $50 million for broadband grants in year one.
  • The Office of Broadband Development announced grant recipients yesterday.

You can watch the archive – again, I have quite the MacGyver setup to make this happen so please overlook imperfections in the video and notes taken on an old computer below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Notes from the day

The Office of Broadband Development announced grant recipients yesterday.

  • There were 64 applications
  • 39 were funded
  • 10 applications were not funded because of RDOF
  • 2 applications were withdrawn
  • 256,000 are underserved
  • The grants will serve 6,922

Various Federal Funding Sources

USDA:

  • ReConnect
    • 3 MN projects have received awards
    • 2 rounds have been funded
    • 1 more round is expected (in March)
  • Community Connect – applications were due 12/23/20

RDOF

  • 22 bidders in MN at $408M for 142,841 locations
  • Long form is due 1/29/21 (today)
  • LOC, system design due 2/15
  • ETC designation due 6/7
  • Default penalty is $3000x Census Block Group in bid or 15 percent total bid

NTIA – $300M for stimulus

FCC – $3.26B for Emergency BB Benefit – with up to $50 per household ($75 in tribal areas)

Topics the Task Force wants to address in 2021

  • Speed
  • RDOF
  • Comcast tour
  • Cable labs
  • Satellite
  • Affordability
  • Tribal areas
  • MICE
  • Mapping
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • State demographer
  • Someone from ARC

Possible subcommittees for 2021

  • Grants and reaching underserved/mapping
  • Speed goals/symmetry 
  • Access and affordability

Hire an intern to write the report. Start the report earlier.

Discussion

Are we OK with submitting a proposal to the Governor that recommends $120M in broadband funding and putting it in the base budget and he comes back with $50M for one year?

We can work with the legislature – maybe go through the whole report with them.

Gov staff adds that $50M was a big statement especially since we made painful cuts in other areas. There just isn’t funding for ongoing funding. There will be a forecast in February that may mean changes. The fact that the Gov went with $50M, not $120M, is not a slight to the Task Force.

Biden indicates that he wants to invest in infrastructure – so we need to keep an eye out for what federal funding might come in to play in terms of investment. 

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