Today the MN Broadband Task Force was all business getting through the brass tacks of the annual report. There were a couple of hot topics or sticky issues. First, in the draft, there was a waiver to allow state funding to go to projects that did not meet the 100/100 standard in areas that are difficult to serve. That has been removed. The reasoning was that public funding should not go to invest in short term solutions, especially when we are in a flux of unprecedented federal funding. There was a lot of discussion on whether to say all recommended funding should come from base budget. Lots of discussion on how to describe satellite – is it a gap technology, is it good enough for people who choose to live in otherwise unserved areas, is it affordable? There was a brief discussion about removing the $5 million cap on state grant projects. It would allow for bigger projects but the group decided to leave that discussion to next year, when hopefully the Office of Broadband Development will be looking at what to do with $180 million proposed funding for broadband. (Fun note – the proposal to get that funding was submitted today.)
Unfortunately, I don’t have a PDF of the document today but with the new PPT format, it’s easy to follow along with the action in the video. I guess that’s a silver lining of COVID – better archive of public meetings.