From the MN Rural Broadband Coalition...
New Broadband Bill Introduced at Legislature
House File 3605 was introduced Tuesday in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The bill would establish a new pilot program within the Border-to-Border Grant Program that funds line extensions from existing networks to connect nearby households in unserved areas. Reps. Jordan Rasmusson (R-Fergus Falls), Rob Ecklund (DFL-Int’l Falls) and Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora) are the bill’s authors. The Senate is expected to introduce its identical version of the bill on Thursday.
This legislation would allow consumers to use an online portal to report there is no service available at their home or business. From there, the Office of Broadband Development would share that address to all broadband service providers in the area and if it is determined that no service is available OBD would conduct a reverse auction and fund a grant of no more than $25,000 to the provider to extend wireline service to the household. The project must be completed within one year of the grant award. If service is already available, that provider must notify the household of the service as well as any broadband assistance programs available to them.
The Minnesota Cable Communications Association is sponsoring the legislation and will be presenting it to the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband during their meeting today (Wednesday, February 23). The Coalition is currently reviewing the legislation and consulting with stakeholders to gather feedback on the impact it will have.