MN Legislative Committee leaves $20 million for broadband grants

The Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance met late Sunday night. The conference committee report for SF 1456 is available online.

It looks like the $20 million for broadband grants stays asis. Here are the details:

29.15 Subd. 8.Broadband Development $ 20,250,000 $ 250,000
29.16(a) $20,000,000 in fiscal year 2018 is for
29.17deposit in the border-to-border broadband fund
29.18account in the special revenue fund established
29.19under Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.396.
29.20(b) $250,000 each year is for the Broadband
29.21Development Office.

AND

39.12 Subd. 4.Administrative Services 7,386,000 7,386,000

39.17(b) $100,000 each year is for the support of
39.18broadband development

There is also legislation for small cell equipment collocation. I will to a separate post about that legislation.

CTC has half the desired take rate and plenty of time for new Kandiyohi County network

According to the West Central Tribune

With sign-ups at 46 percent of the goal, the push is continuing to enlist customers for a broadband project coming to north central Kandiyohi County.

Consolidated Telecommunications Co. hopes to start construction of a fiber line this summer that would bring high-speed internet to 1,600 rural homes and businesses.

It’s important for customers to sign up soon so the company can reach the goal it needs to make the project cost-effective, said Connie Schmoll, business development specialist with the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

They are about halfway to where they want to be…

CTC has said it wants to reach its goal of 800 initial sign-ups by the end of April. As of Friday afternoon, it was almost halfway to that goal.

Progress has been slower than supporters would like, however, prompting Kandiyohi County this week to postpone the sale of $5 million in tax abatement bonds to finance the local share of the project. County officials hope to go ahead with the sale soon but they said this week that the customer target must be met first.

“We won’t go forward, CTC won’t go forward, until we get (800 sign-ups),” said Larry Kleindl, county administrator.

They are having meetings to get folks signed up…

CTC will host four meetings this coming week to give prospective customers a chance to meet company representatives, hear about the project and sign up.

The meetings are at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Lake Andrew Town Hall.

Kandiyohi County works on bond sale for Border to Border broadband network

Last month, I wrote about progress on the Kandiyohi-CTC Border to Border funded fiber upgrades. CTC was holding meetings to talk about the upgrades in the impacted and nearby areas. This week the community took another big step in their project.

According to the West Central Tribune

One more step was completed Tuesday as Kandiyohi County prepares to sell $5 million in tax abatement bonds to help fund the development of rural broadband.

The County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday for property tax abatements totaling $5 million over 20 years. The move will have no impact on actual property taxes paid but is a requirement for the county to use tax abatement bonds as a financing mechanism.

Shelly Eldridge, senior municipal adviser with Ehlers, said it’s “the backup that supports the general obligation.”

This is the first time Kandiyohi County has sought this type of financing for an infrastructure project. Proceeds from the sale of the bonds will supply the local share of a $10 million broadband expansion in north central Kandiyohi County by Consolidated Telecommunications Co. of Brainerd.

Border to Border Broadband meeting in Spicer

According to the West Central Tribune there’s a meeting in Spicer to discuss the recent Border to Border broadband grant (next meeting April 4)…

The second in a series of meetings on broadband expansion in northern Kandiyohi County will be at 5 p.m. [yesterday] today at the Dethlefs Center in Spicer.

Representatives of Consolidated Telecommunications Co. will be on hand to explain the project and answer questions. Those who live or do business within the proposed project zone also will have an opportunity to sign up for future services.

Consolidated Telecommunications was awarded a grant earlier this year through the Minnesota Office of Broadband Technology to bring high-speed internet to unserved rural neighborhoods in north central Kandiyohi County.

They were talking what they need to happen to help the project succeed…

Connie Schmoll, business development specialist for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, said 53 people attended the first meeting, which was held Monday evening.

Consolidated Telecommunications Co. needs at least half of the potential customer base within the target area to become subscribers in order to make the project financially feasible. Because of the state grant funds, those who sign up during the project deployment will not be charged installation fees, Schmoll said.

Monthly fees are competitive with services offered by other local carriers. Bundles that include landline telephone service and TV also will be offered if there’s enough interest.

A final informational meeting with CTC will be held at 5 p.m. April 4 at the Dethlefs Center in Spicer.

MN House Job Growth Budget – $7 million for broadband grants for one year only

Earlier today I posted the Senate budget for broadband ($10 million a year for 2 years). Now I have the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee posted proposed budget today.

Here’s what they have for broadband: Broadband (HF1618 Baker/HF841 Sandstede) (Border to Border Grants)

  • FY 2018 – $7 million
  • FY 2019 – 0
  • FY 2020 – 0
  • 2021– 0

They budget $250,000/year for the Office of Broadband Development from 2018-2021.

Both the Senate and the House are far from the $50 million a year proposed by the MN Broadband Task Force and the $30 million a year proposed by the Governor.

MN Senate Jobs Omnibus Budget Spreadsheet – Broadband Grant funding through FY 2018-19

I try to follow what’s going on at the State in terms of funding for broadband. Yesterday I ran across the Senate Jobs Omnibus Budget Spreadsheet. There are a couple of interesting items related to broadband.

  • The Governor’s proposed appropriation for Border to Border grant for 2018-19 is $60 Million ($30 million per year) with $500,000 ($250,000 per year) for the Office of Broadband Development
  • The Senate’s proposed appropriation for Border to Border grant for 2018-19 is $20 Million ($10 million per year) with $500,000 ($250,000 per year) for the Office of Broadband Development
  • Neither have proposed funding for the grants for FY2 20-21
  • Both have proposed funding of $500,000) ($250,000 per year) for the Office of Broadband Development for 2020-21

Kandiyohi County & CTC get started on their Border to Border project

The West Central Tribune reports on a fantastic way to start a Border to Border Project…

A series of “meet and greets” will be held over the next three weeks for residents and businesses within the proposed service zone of a broadband project by Consolidated Telecommunications Co.

The meetings are scheduled for this coming Monday; Thursday, March 23; and April 4. All three will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Dethlefs Senior Center in Spicer.

The sessions will be an opportunity for residents to meet representatives of Consolidated Telecommunications Co., ask questions and sign up for future broadband services.

Those who aren’t sure whether their home or business is within the proposed project area may go to the company’s website at www.connectctc.comand enter their street address and zip code.

Kandiyohi County residents who live or own a business outside the project zone are also encouraged to attend. Their input will help Consolidated Telecommunications gauge local interest in future broadband expansion projects.

So smart to get the community involved at the onset. AND I want to highlight the door that has opened because of the grant. They are inviting others to come to help decide where to go next.