MN Broadband Task Force Dec 2022: Reviewing Draft Annual Report: Next meeting Dec 22

The Task Force went through the draft annual report. When they group met in person there was always a public copy of any draft made available. That’s not the case online – but I was able to screenshot the pages as they discussed them.

There are a few practical issue that seem to be sticky wickets: changing the 50 percent match requirement to allow entities to apply for a greater portion of their budget and the $5 million cap on grants. It seems as if they may be able to recommend removing a cap but not suggesting an amount this year. Also there seemed to be interest in reducing percentage of match required from applicant.

The Task Force is continuing this meeting Thursday at 10am to finalize change so there may be more info then. Also, we were reminded that the Task Force is disbanding in April 2023.

Welcome, Task Force Introductions, and Approval of Minutes from November 17, 2022 meeting

 

Welcome to Barbara Droher Kline

Barb grew up in MN; moved to Oakland and worked in child protection and became a county coroner. Moved back in early 1990s. Worked to change use of property taxes. Is great community activist and mental health advocate. We moved back home; I ran for office. I door knocked and heard a lot of broadband. I worked with the Blandin Foundation. It’s challenging to get things done with grants. CAF 2 funding in the area has not been spent. RDOF maps have made us ineligible for funding. But we keep communication going.

Comments on report:

  • Concerned about challenge process at local level. Counties that have been challenged should be able to speak.
  • Concerned about RDOF – it’s more than the lose of funding – it’s lost of opportunity and we have doubts that the money would have been well spent.

Office of Broadband Development Update, Bree Maki, Executive Director

  • Announced the $100 million in grants that went out 2 weeks ago
  • We will open next round of funding today
  • Working on kick off even on January 25 in Prior Lake
  • Line Extension funding applications is open 400+ applications
  • Encourage people to check out the FCC map

Q: Will ODB challenge the FCC maps? Seems onerous for residents to have to do the work.
A: We have a lot going out and that has been challenging to out ability to lead the challenge. We are working at MNGEO. We have our provider map. If you challenge our maps, your best bet is to challenge the FCC maps because we don’t have a deadline for challenging the MN Maps but there is a deadline to challenge the FCC map and that’s Jan 13.
OBD has encouraged involvement but a decision is still being made at the State. There are some legal ramifications to the specific dates.

A: The challenges to the FCC maps submitted by Jan 13 will impact the funding allocations. But apparently only the broadband availability challenges – not location challenges will be considered. You can challenge after Jan 13 but that will not impact BEAD funding allocation announced on June 30, 2023. After June 30, groups (such as OBD or a provider) can challenge at that point too.

Q: I don’t think this is a role for OBD but a role for the Governor as well as an opportunity to talk with Congressional folks.

Q: There are 471 line extension applications – is that from providers or residents?
A: The homeowner has to apply.

Part One of Final Report Scott Cole, Collectivity

A public copy of the draft report was not made available. But I was able to do screenshots of the pages shared/discussed during the meeting.

Q: In executive summary – let’s not speak as if this is going to be one-time funding.

Q: Legislators need to understand that there are areas (such as counties) that do not qualify for all funding
Q: In Key Challenges:

  • we need to mention that RDOF funding isn’t going away but will be redistributed through BEAD
    Another member wonder where that info comes from
    Tom Karst winders where that comes from and is under the belief that RDOF funds will stay with RDOF
    Really meant that since RDOF proposed recipient is no longer qualified those areas are now able to qualify for other funding.
  • permitting is a top concern – let’s prioritize i
  • Can we emphasize the fact that we feel behind when we lost a season of grants
  • This is a good place to remind folks that federal funding is complicated and not available to everyone
  • Do we mentioned the 60 percent match anywhere? That’s really important in rural areas
    Scott will share notes from small group that apparently explain why 50 percent match is not covered

Q: Key Challenges – Mapping

  • Need to emphasize the lack of capacity in some areas to address potential funding
  • 2.4 – Jaune 30, 3023 is the date that NTIA is saying they will make allocations
  • Counties and township need help with more than mapping Le Sueur was lucky to have Blandin but many counties don’t have that
    Folks were interested in expanding the American Connection Corp (sponsored by Land o Lakes)

Q: Key Challenges – Affordability – We need to mention multi-unit dwelling – there are areas where people spend more on broadband than subsidized rent.

Q: Key Challenges – Use & Navigation – will be using term training instead of literacy since literacy could be pejorative – then decided that skills would be better term

Q: Recommendation – Funding Goals

  • Can we add a discussion on 50 percent match? Piecemeal planning is difficult
    We need to address this sooner rather than later
  • Can we address the issue of challenge increase and how detrimental it is to the community to when a few homes (or even 100) are removed from a project because of a challenge.
    This will have to keep until 2023
  • The $5 million cap is removed – do we want to recommend a new cap?
    We can recommend that the pilot test (now in place) to become permanent
    Can we modify the legislation? This is too limited
    What if we said $8 million? It feels like a double hit to the fund if we remove the 50 percent match and remove cap.
    NTIA talks about 75 percent match – but unless something changes in the State we’ll be beholden to the 50 percent match
  • Should we craft new text
    That would take time and we’re running out
    We could keep this loose and give OBD the flexibility
    We need to do it now – this has been put off for too long
    The Task Force is disbanded in April, we could take this on before then

Recommendations – Adoption Goals

  • why are we bringing up American Connection Corp on two slides?
    Because they address two issues
    Allude to first mention instead of second mention

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Update, Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Public Comment, Other Business, Future Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

Next meeting will be Thursday 10am – it’s actually a continuation of this meeting so that they don’t need to worry about open meeting laws such as posting a public notice (and presumably link) to the meeting 24 hours before the meeting.

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