MN Broadband Task Force July 2021: Automated Vehicles and interactive broadband maps

The MN Broadband Task Force got an update from the MN Office of Broadband Development. Because new funding for grants will be coming from federal sources it sounds like funds will not be released in 2021. The also heard from the State Connected & Automated Vehicles Office and their need for fiber. CAVX is interested in partnering with the Task Force to get better info and better fiber throughout the state. Finally they heard from CNS about their interactive broadband maps.

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from June 14, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  OBD Update

  • Angie Dickison, OBD Executive Director
  • Diane Wells, OBD Deputy Director

Border to Border grant was funded at $70 million on June 30. They funding will come from American Rescue Act. SO DEED has to apply for the funding from the Feds. It will submitted Sept 30 or 90 days after application is open. Funding will no longer be totally within State control. The criteria is still not out for Federal funding. They let folks know what they hear.

Electric cooperative can now use existing easements for broadband – after last legislature.

DEED Small Cities COVID funding is still being determined. They should hear soon. Funding normally goes to low income areas.

The FCC approved some RDOF funders. There were two MN locations – Consolidated and Farmers Mutual. FCC invited submissions with census tracts with minimal households to withdraw.

Federal funder have agreed to share into on their funding to eliminate double funding.

It seems unlikely that there will be a broadband grant funding round in 2021.

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Connecting Minnesota: MnDOT’s Fiber Optic Partnership Study

  • Kristin R. White, Executive Director, Connected & Automated Vehicles Office (CAV-X) (get handout)

Try to channel technology to provide new transportation. They look beyond transportation to help equity issues and the fear of displaces workers by up-skilling workers.

Automated vehicles need connectivity (fiber) to communication with objects around them. So it seems like a good partnership for AV and community broadband to partner.

MN was one of the first to create a AV strategic plans – number one recommendation was invest in fiber.

The AV folks recognize the benefits they have as a State group in terms of being a partner with muscle and persuasion. They have phased plans to get and use fiber – starting with the 1990 Connected MN map.

It would be nice to have a fiber group that focused on getting statewide fiber to focus on public-private partnership.

The AV folks are already funding small fiber projects – like from St Paul to the Mayo Clinic

11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break

11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. CNS Broadband Operations Map Demo

  • Paul Solsrud, Product Manager, Cooperative Network Services, LLC

11:50 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.   Subgroup Updates

CAN has interactive maps that are very easy to use. You can filter by a wide range of factors – often based on what a provider or community would need to know for a grant application or for a feasibility study

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, September Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

Notes from subcommittees

  • Served/unserved committee – not looking to do a report – more agenda-driven. Do we even need a report this year? Maybe a letter to the legislature would be even better. We don’t need to change the goalposts – we want the same things.
  • Accessibility and affordability – they plan to meet for a number of folks. Focusing on reliability, not just speed.
  • Mapping and speed goals – chair of group has a new baby

Introduction from Scott Cole and Collectivity

Worked with ConnectedMN. Ask the group to consider a new approach to the report in the form of a PowerPoint. They will be writing the report.

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