Governor’s Task Force on Broadband April 5, 2021
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Microsoft Teams meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app
Or call in (audio only)
+1 763-317-4323,,746852807# United States, Plymouth
Phone Conference ID: 746 852 807#
10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from March 16, 2021 Meeting
10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2021 Legislation (Deven Bowdry, DEED)
10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Update and conversation with U.S. Rep. Angie Craig
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. LTD Broadband – RDOF Introduction with Corey Hauer (Invited) and Haley Tollefson (Confirmed)
11:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Break
11:10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. 2020 Network Performance -The Shift to Home and the Impact to Networks with William Check, SVP, Science & Technology and CTO, NCTA and Matt Tooley, VP of Broadband Technology at NCTA
11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Subgroup Reports
12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, May Meeting Plans, Wrap-up such as May meeting-specific questions/topics for State Demographer? Also presentation by Fixed Wireless Panel planned.
An update from the MN Rural Broadband Coalition…
Senate Hears Three Broadband Funding and Policy Bills
Saint Paul, Minn.—The Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee heard SF 22, SF 946, and SF 1186 during its meeting today. You may recall our summary that was sent out earlier this week that outlined the bills currently moving through the legislative process.
Three of those bills were heard today:
- SF 22 (Bakk) Broadband Funding
- $120 million, biennial ongoing funding
- SF 946 (Westrom) Broadband Funding + Unserved Targeting
- $120 million, biennial ongoing funding
- $30 million, biennial targeted to unserved areas
- Projects that must go through an underserved area to get to unserved area would qualify
- State match may be up to 55% if 10% comes from a non-state entity.
- Language from last session/special sessions
- SF 1186 (Draheim) Mapping Changes + Funding
- Annual mapping contract, must collect data from “wired and wireless” providers, make maps public by April 15, annually.
- $50 million, biennial one-time funding
- Unserved only
- “Must not be used in areas scheduled to be built out through federal assistance”
The Coalition submitted a letter to the committee outlining our testimony and position on the three bills. (you can read that letter here) We wrote in support of SF 22 and SF 946. We could not fully support SF 1186 because of the clause that prevents the state from investing in areas that are scheduled to receive federal assistance. We know that federal programs have not always met the high standards that the Border-to-Border Program has in place, particularly when it comes to broadband speeds.
All three bills were laid over for possible inclusion in a forthcoming committee budget bill.
We want to thank all three bill authors for continuing to keep broadband front-and-center at the Legislature as well as Sen. Torrey Westrom for dedicating time in his committee to hearing the bills. The next step is the February Revenue Forecast which will be revealed Friday morning (2/26). We will find out what the state’s finances look like and get a better idea in the coming weeks what the state budget will look like. Stay tuned for an update at the end of the week.
HF 686, Electric Cooperative Easements Bill Heard in House
Rep. Rob Ecklund’s bill that would allow electric cooperatives build broadband network on existing electric easements was heard today by the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee. The bill was updated by the author to include several provisions, including clauses that require property owners along the easement to be notified by mail and allow for up to six months for property owners to take legal action against cooperatives over the easement.
The bill was laid over by the committee so that stakeholders could continue to work on their differences and come to an agreement on the bill.
The Minnesota Broadband Task Force met online today. I have recorded the session below. It requires quite a MacGuvyer setup, which means the sound quality can be less than perfect but here it is. (I’ll post a picture for your amusement.)
They got an update on various bills that have been introduced in Minnesota:
- HF686/SF1304 – Existing easements held by rural electric cooperatives to be used to provide broadband service authorization
- HF14/SF22 – Broadband grant program money transfer deposit authorization ($120M from Senate & House)
- SF945 – Broadband grant program funds transfer- to be heard in Senate on Wed at 3pm
- SF946 – Broadband grant program funds transfer ($120M plus $50M for unserved areas and requiring less match)
- SF1186 – Broadband grant program appropriation
Task Force member Brian Krambeer talked about his work at MiEnergy and how and why a electric cooperative might get into proving service. At a high level the answer is twofold: the infrastructure makes providing services easier and their customers want/need it. As he pointed out, providing broadband is a treat; they are bringing services to people who thought they might have to move to get the broadband they need.
The Task Force heard about the work of American Connection a collaboration of 143 organizations (including Land o’Lakes) committed to promoting:
- Robust investment in broadband at a federal level
- Federal coordination of that investment working with state and local resources
- Better mapping
The have done a lot as corporate citizens to get broadband to rural areas, especially during the pandemic. There membership is responsible for 2,900 free hotspots in 49 states. That night look like Land o’Lakes installing a wifi spot in their parking lot for neighbors to access. One of the things that has surprised them is the lack of rural readiness to react to federal opportunities.
Finally the Task Force talked about how they would work in 2021 and the subcommittees that they would form. Many members were interested in being involved in multiple subcommittees – but learned that when too many join any one committee it triggers the need to adhere to open meeting regulations, which means they would have to invite the public in and at least share notes after the fact. The image below outlines their proposed committees and topics based on response form the last meeting.
The group heard from the Office of Broadband Development about the MN state grants announced yesterday and sources of federal funding. Then they talked about topics they wanted to address throughout the year.
- The 2020 Broadband Task Force Report is out.
- The Governor’s budget includes $50 million for broadband grants in year one.
- The Office of Broadband Development announced grant recipients yesterday.
You can watch the archive – again, I have quite the MacGyver setup to make this happen so please overlook imperfections in the video and notes taken on an old computer below.
Notes from the day Continue reading
The 2020 Minnesota Broadband Task Force report has been posted on the Office of Broadband Development website.
Here’s a quick take from the Executive Summary:
Minnesota’s approach to broadband infrastructure development and deployment is regarded by many as best in class and considered as a model to follow. The key components that make it so successful are the Border to Border grant matching program, the mapping capabilities, the realistic and forward-looking internet speed goals, and the Office of Broadband Development (OBD). To maintain the leadership position Minnesota has created for itself, the Task Force has evaluated the effectiveness of the program and recommends a number of adjustments to ensure continued progress and guarantee that all Minnesotans have access to adequate broadband service in this new digital age.
The Broadband Grant Program should maintain priority on the 157,000 unserved households as they are unlikely to get service without the grant program. After careful review of the estimated cost to serve those households and applicable federal programs, the Task Force has found that it would be best to continue to fund the Broadband Grant Program at a biennial amount of $120 million. The State should fund the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program as a part of the base budget each year to ensure continued progress unhindered by surpluses or deficits which have caused inconsistent funding. The Task Force has also determined that all future awards and expenditures must be on service that meets or exceeds the 2026 speed goal of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.
And the recommendations:
- Recommendation #1 Continue to fund the Broadband Grant Program at a biennial amount of $120 million from the base budget each year and ensure that all future expenditures must be on service that meets or exceeds the 2026 speed goal of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.
- Recommendation #2 The Taskforce recommends the Office of Broadband Development receive an appropriation of $700,000 per biennium from the base budget. That figure is OBD’s estimate of funding needed to maintain current operations.
- Recommendation #3 Create an Office of Broadband operating annual fund of $1.5 million to promote broadband adoption and use and redress digital inequity.
- Recommendation #4 Given the condensed construction season in Minnesota, it is critical that permits are issued promptly. The state should convene a working group comprised of all state agencies relating to broadband construction permitting to streamline the process, both in time to issue the permits as well as the permit application process.
- Recommendation #5 There needs to be more oversight of railroad facilities by the Office of Pipeline Safety. Railroads need to be required to locate their own facilities and need to be encouraged to issue permits promptly.
The MN Broadband Task Force is meeting on Friday. Here’s the login info:
Here’s the agenda…
10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from December 18, 2020 Meeting
10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Status of 2020 Annual Report
10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m. Office of Broadband Development Update
10:40 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Focus for 2021
- Meeting Locations (post-virtual meetings)
11:20 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. ask Force Organization
- Subcommittee or Other Structure
- Assign Topics
- Assign Task Force Members to Subcommittee or Other Structure
12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, February Meeting Plans, Wrap-up
Ecklund, Sandstede, Sundin, Lislegard and Keeler introduced:
- F. 14,A bill for an act relating to telecommunications; transferring money for deposit in the broadband grant program.
The bill was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Industrial Education and Economic Development Finance and Policy.
And more details …
A bill for an act
relating to telecommunications; transferring money for deposit in the broadband
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:
Section 1. BROADBAND GRANT PROGRAM; TRANSFER.
$60,000,000 in fiscal year 2022 and $60,000,000 in fiscal year 2023 are transferred from
the general fund to the commissioner of employment and economic development for deposit
in the border-to-border broadband fund account established in Minnesota Statutes, section
116J.396, subdivision 1, for the purposes specified in Minnesota Statutes, section 116J.396,
This section is effective the day following final enactment.
MinnPost has been following the potential impact of RDOF results on rural broadband in Minnesota. Here’s their latest…
When the Federal Communications Commission announced $312 million in grants for one relatively small company to build broadband in Minnesota earlier this month, it stirred controversy among those who worry the internet provider can’t deliver what it promised.
Now that squabble over the company, LTD Broadband, has spilled over into Minnesota’s own grant program for development of high-speed internet.
The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition — made up of internet developers, local governments and other groups like Mayo Clinic — sent a letter Wednesday to state officials asking them to award grant money to build broadband in areas expected to be served through the federal program, in part because they have so little confidence in LTD Broadband. Some internet companies said the state asked them to submit bids for cash outside of the federal program zones.
Minnesota officials haven’t made a decision on how to proceed, but the state must navigate the fight over broadband money and territory while balancing the best way to get internet to rural residents — and to spend taxpayer dollars.
They get into the background of the RDOF program and get comment from LTD…
LTD Broadband won $1.32 billion nationally and $312 million in Minnesota — the most of any one company in the country and the state. The money is doled out over 10 years but projects are supposed to be built in six years. LTD’s CEO Corey Hauer said they will deliver gigabit service through fiber-optic internet.
Competitors in the business balked at the auction results because LTD Broadband is a relatively small company with expertise in fixed-wireless internet, where homes get service from a signal placed high on a structure, such as a silo. It can be cheaper to build than fiber, which requires a physical connection to houses, though state officials who run the Minnesota grant program have avoided fixed wireless, arguing it is slower and less reliable than fiber.
Hauer says LTD Broadband has some experience in fiber and is ready to quickly expand and meet the challenge of providing gigabit service to a huge and disparate geographic area.
And they talk about the impact of grant applications awaiting results with the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development (OBD)…
Minnesota’s border-to-border broadband program, run by the Department of Employment and Economic Development, has $20 million in state money to dole out. Barbara Droher Kline, a broadband development consultant working with Le Sueur County, said DEED asked people to submit bids that don’t overlap with areas to be served under the FCC initiative. That’s meant to ensure a wider swath of the state can be covered.
But with deep skepticism from developers over LTD’s ability to actually deliver services, many are asking DEED to reconsider.
Organizations such as the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition are asking the OBD to move ahead with awards. OBD is undecided…
Angie Dickison, executive director of DEED’s Office of Broadband Development, said she was limited in what she could say because the state is in an open grant round and because there are federal limits right now on discussing development plans for the FCC program. An FAQ posted by DEED says: “In deciding which projects should be awarded state grant funding, information on any federal funding announced prior to the state announcement will be considered.”
Dickison said the state is still evaluating applications and hasn’t decided how to proceed with the state grants in light of the federal auction results. Final decisions on grants are planned for January. LTD Broadband’s “long-form application” is due to the FCC in mid-February and review could take months, Robinson said in his letter.
“We are aware of the concerns that folks have and are taking that all into consideration,” Dickison said. “We’re in a wait and see mode until we learn more about the final outcome of the auction and the end of the ‘quiet period.’”
From the Office of Broadband Development…
Microsoft Teams meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app
Or call in (audio only)
+1 763-317-4323,,465844792# United States, Plymouth
Phone Conference ID: 465 844 792#
9– 9:10 a.m. Welcome, Introductions, Meeting Overview, Approve Meeting Minutes
9:10 – 11:00 a.m. Walk Through Draft of Annual Report
11- 11:10 a.m. Public Comments
11 – 11:30 a.m. Other Business, Next Steps, Wrap-up
Congrats to Angie! A press release from Governor Walz…
Governor Tim Walz recently announced the appointment of Angie Dickison to serve as Executive Director of Broadband Development. She has been filing this position in an interim capacity since July 2019.
“Internet access is both an economic and quality of life issue,” said Governor Walz. “Angie is passionate about ensuring that all Minnesotans have high-speed internet access for work, learning, business, and health care, and she understands the importance of working together to achieve Minnesota’s goal of border-to-border high-speed internet access.”
“Broadband internet access is critical to helping our communities thrive, from businesses getting products to customers, to students logging on to do their homework. And during this time of crisis, ensuring that every Minnesotan has high-speed internet access is more important than ever,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “I am grateful that Angie is leading this work on behalf of all Minnesotans.”
“Over the last year, Angie led a number of key initiatives — from our Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program to increasing telecommuting policies in our local communities,” said Steve Grove, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). “She’s a proven bridge builder between communities, individuals, businesses, and service providers across the state. And now as Executive Director, she will play a critical role helping cultivate economic vitality, connectivity, and digital equity in communities throughout Minnesota.”
Prior to joining DEED in 2019, Dickison led the State of Wisconsin Broadband Office, where she worked since 2015. She previously served as the technology director for Lake County, Minnesota.
“I am honored and excited to take on this role in an official capacity,” said Dickison. “I look forward to continuing to help Minnesotans understand available broadband options and to work with communities and other stakeholders on expanding access and services across the state.”
Dickison received her MBA from the University of Wisconsin and she was a Public Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 2014. Her community involvement includes prior service on the Blandin Foundation’s Broadband Strategy Board as well as appointment by Governor Mark Dayton to the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.
As part of DEED’s Economic Development Division, the Office of Broadband Development is a key service in the state’s efforts to build stronger communities, and helps Minnesotans understand broadband options available and work together to improve availability and use of high speed broadband services. Since 2014, DEED has awarded over $105 million in broadband infrastructure grants to fund 140 projects across Minnesota, with the goal of border-to-border broadband access.
On August 7, Governor Walz issued a proclamation congratulating 23 cities, townships and counties across Minnesota as telecommuter-friendly communities. As the first group of communities participating in the new Telecommuter Forward! Program, they have committed to coordinating and partnering with broadband providers, realtors, economic development professionals, employers, employees, and other stakeholders to promote the availability of telecommuting options in their region.
Online and open to all, here are the details from the Office of Broadband Development…
Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
August 4, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Dial-in: 1-619-377-3319 or 1-888-742-5095, Passcode 3249482049
Meeting Number: 130 292 7338
10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from June 24, 2020 Meeting
10:15 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Minnesota Department of Education Overview of CARES Act Funding for Distance Learning Alicia Waeffler, Equity and Opportunity Programs Supervisor
Michael Dietrich, ESEA Policy Specialist
Sara George, ESEA/ESSA Title I Part A Program Specialist
11:10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Break
11:15 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. Report out by Minnesota Model Subgroup (Chair: Brian Krambeer; Members: Steve Fenske, Theresa Sunde, Paul Weirtz)
11:35 a.m. – 11:55 a.m. Report out by Barriers and Technology Subgroup (Co-Chairs: Marc Johnson, Dave Wolf; Members: Nolan Cauthen, Steve Giorgi, Jim Weikum)
11:55 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Report out by Economic Development and Digital Inclusion Subgroup (Chair: Bernadine Joselyn; Members: Dale Cook and Micah Myers)
12:15 p.m. – 12:25 p.m. Discussion of Report Writing Process
12:25 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, September Meeting Plans, Wrap-up
Happening on Wednesday…
Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
May 20, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Dial-in: 1-619-377-3319 or 1-888-742-5095, Passcode 3249482049
Meeting number: 592 448 653
- 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions
- 10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Approval of Minutes from February, March and April, 2020
- 10:20 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. St. Louis County Crowdsource Mapping Project-GEO Partners
- 11:00 a.m. – 11:05 a.m. Break
- 11:05 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. Midco Presentation on Service Technologies
- 11:35 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Legislative Update—Deven Bowdry, DEED Government Relations Coordinator
- 11:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Report out by Economic Development and Digital Inclusion Subgroup (Chair: Bernadine Joselyn; Members: Dale Cook and Micah Myers)
- 12:00 p.m. – 12:10 p.m. Report out by Minnesota Model Subgroup (Chair: Brian Krambeer; Members: Steve Fenske, Shannon Heim, Theresa Sunde, Paul Weirtz)
- 12:10 p.m. – 12:20 p.m. Report out by Barriers and Technology Subgroup (Co-Chairs: Marc Johnson, Dave Wolf; Members: Nolan Cauthen, Steve Giorgi, Jim Weikum)
- 12:20 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, June Meeting Plans, Wrap-up
Coming up on Friday…
Friday, May 01, 2020 , 9:45 AM
Ways and Means
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
Location: Remote hearing
This meeting is scheduled until 12:45 if necessary.
This remote hearing is taking place under Rule 10.01, which you may view here: https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cco/rules/permrule/1001.htm
I. HF 3029 (Ecklund) Broadband development grant program annual statutory appropriation provided, and money appropriated (pending referral)
II. HF 1507 (Stephenson) Minnesota investment fund grant program limits modified, job training grant program modified, and money appropriated
III. HF 168 (Schultz) Temporary PCA rate increase during COVID-19 emergency (pending referral)
IV. HF 4541 (Hausman) COVID-19; eviction and mortgage foreclosure protection and emergency housing assistance provided during a public health emergency, report required, penalties for false statements provided, and money appropriated
Other bills may be added
Meeting documents will be posted on the Ways and Means website at https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/Committees/Home/91014
This remote hearing may be viewed live via the following methods:
1) Live stream via House website: https://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/live/1
2) Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/MNHouseInfo/
3) YouTube: https://youtu.be/RpbRvaeDjdc
Right about the same time the MN Broadband Task Force met today, the Senate Committee on Finance also met to discuss Senator Westrom’s SF4494 bill: COVID-19 telemedicine equipment grant program establishment; distance learning broadband access grant program establishment; appropriations.
On the highest level – the bill intends to provide funding for broadband via:
- $8 million for a technology reimbursement grant program for schools
- $2 million for telemedicine equipment reimbursement program
- $10 million to the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program
The discussion today related to the latest amendment. It was a delete all amendment, which shifted source for the $10 million to broadband grants to federal funding. (Paid in advance by MN, and paid back when federal funds come in.) Also there’s a focus on unserved areas over underserved to receive funding. They also removed a first-come, first-served approach to applications.
The irony of the meeting happened when Senator Westrom’s broadband connection kept cutting out. He turned off his video, which can be a good fix for participating in online conversation, Unfortunately regulation requires that the speaker be seen as well as heard during these State policy discussions.
Q: with changes on school-related access, which school districts will be impacted?
A: the hope is to reach unserved areas.
The intention is to allow for the schools to come up with quick fixes but that the grants remain for long-term solutions.
There is a lot of discussion on unserved vs underserved which morphed into a discussion on affordability for households especially since affordability is a concern that straddles urban and rural counties. Some want affordability to be as important as accessibility – especially when it comes to providing access to students. Some think the Office of Broadband Development focuses strictly on deployment.
There was some recognition that more funding would solve the debate between accessible and affordable.
There was some discussion on the importance of tracking and allowing “mobile wireless” with the grants.
They vote and the bill goes to the Floor.
Today the MN House Committee Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division, heard from Representative Ecklund on HF 3029 – which includes broadband development grant program annual statutory appropriation provided, and money appropriated. Chair Pelowski’s (DE 1 amendment to HF 3029 was accepted. After some discussion the bill was moved to Ways & Means. The Senate will discuss a similar bill on Wednesday (April 29) in Finance.
There was concern about State budgeting issues given the impact of COVID19. There was concern about the speed on impact on rural communities given in the impact of COVID19. There was concern about equitable access to funds for areas that need it There was concern about increased state match for grants from 50 to 55 percent.
A hard truth that Brent Christensen (from MN Telecom Alliance) shared – is that even if they do appropriate this additional funds, it doesn’t that mean that the work will be done (that MN will have ubiquitous broadband) but it means it will be done quicker.” Angie Dickison (from Office of Broadband Development) went through the math and if they do add $10 million onto the grant program that will only help serve 2 percent of the 163,000 homes and businesses that need access and that’s only to the speed goals of 2022 – or 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.