NOW OUT! 2021 Annual Report from the MN Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

The MN Broadband Task Force Annual Report is now available. Here are their recommendations…

Recommendations – Unserved, Underserved, & Funding

(1.1 & 1.3) The total $180 million Capital Projects Fund allocated to Minnesota from the federal ARPA fund, should be allocated to OBD for funding the Border-to-Border Broadband program over the next 2-3 years to help attain broadband service for all Minnesota residents.
(1.2 & 1.3) Grant funds should first be focused on unserved areas (~171,000 households fit this category), and the definitions of ‘unserved’ & ‘underserved’ should remain unchanged as they highlight the geographic areas not meeting stated goals.
(1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5) Geographic considerations should be factored in when allocating broadband grant funds. A “one-size fits all” grant allocation will not secure service in areas of the state where a fiber/cable option is difficult or impossible:
● Unserved areas of the state that are difficult to reach due to low density, tough geography, etc. should receive a higher % of funding match from OBD to increase build out options for wireline projects/solutions
● The legislature should require all future projects funded by OBD grant dollars be capable of 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload at the time of deployment (irrespective of whether or not a provider offers a service package of 100/100), and meet network reliability requirements in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Recommendations – Mapping and Speed Goals

(2.1-2.3) Minnesota should continue to invest in improving broadband maps
● strive to achieve ISP cooperation in producing address-level or ‘shapefile’ broadband maps (rather than rely on current FCC census block data)
● include eligibility data related to the various federal programs supporting broadband infrastructure development
● OBD is encouraged to incorporate, whenever possible, data from reliable 3rd party ‘crowd-sourced’ maps when determining eligibility for Border-to-Border grants (2.4 & 2.5) The legislature should continue to make the investments from state general funds necessary to ensure that all Minnesotans, regardless of zip code, have access to broadband at speeds that meet state goals. Federal investments should not be seen as a substitute for ongoing state investment

Recommendations – Access, Affordability & Education

(3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6) Provide funding to the Office of Broadband Development to promote broadband adoption and use to redress digital inequity.
(3.2) Fully fund the Telecommunications Access Equity Aid (TEA) program (by raising the funding cap to at least $9 million) in order to allow school districts to equitably procure the internet and network bandwidth needed to fully support digital learning. This
aid program benefits school districts by making access to broadband more affordable by fully funding the eligible costs of the federal E-rate program.
(3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6) Establish and fund a position within the MN Department of Education to provide leadership and support to schools (and families) in areas of digital equity, digital literacy, funding (E-rate, etc.), cybersecurity, instructional technology and
other areas of education technology.
(3.7, 3.8) Given expressed needs from city & county leaders to expand the Lead for MN American Connection Corp fellows program (Americorp/Vista), the state should provide supplemental funding of $225,000 to support work in Minnesota communities on broadband expansion projects (15 more fellows @ $15,000 per fellow)

EVENT Dec 20: MN Broadband Task Force meeting to discuss final draft of annual report

I will attend and will livestream via Facebook – although folks are welcome to attend directly as well. I don’t have the most recent draft of the report to share but I have the previous version. There were a few things that people might find concerning – like opening the door to using state grants for projects that only meet 25/3 requirements or emphasis on unserved.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

December 20, 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Join with a video conferencing device

Video Conference ID: 117 952 458 6

Alternate VTC instructions

Or call in (audio only)

+1 651-395-7448,,771759466#   United States, St. Paul

Phone Conference ID: 771 759 466#

Find a local number | Reset PIN

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.                Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from December 3, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Office of Broadband Development (OBD) Update

10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  Walk Thru of Draft Report

11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.  Break

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Continue Walk Thru of Draft Report

12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.  Discuss Next Steps

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, 2022 Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

Oct 2021 MN County Ranking for gig speeds. How does your county rank?

The Office of Broadband Development has released the county broadband maps and numbers; the data was collected by October 2021. For archival reasons, I’ll do three different posting looking at:

Turns out the gig ranking is where all of the excitement is in terms of change in ranking. I’ll paste the numbers below but they’re available in a spreadsheet too. It’s worth nothing that the top county shows 99.59 percent of households have access to Gig access; the bottom 10 counties have less than 1 percent coverage.

Top Ten Gig Counties

County Percent ranking last year
Clearwater 99.59 1 5
Beltrami 99.23 2 1
Stevens 96.79 3 2
Cook 94.5 4 3
Red Lake 93.85 5 6
Lake 93.23 6 4
Pennington 92.86 7 46
Lincoln 88.88 8 45
Steele 86.73 9 11
Olmsted 80.56 10 33

Worth noting that all of these are rural counties! Big congrats to the new counties on this short list, especially to Pennington, Lincoln and Olmsted.

I hear policy makers talking about ways to use public funding to build networks only required to get to speeds of 25/3 and I think about the deepening divide between those areas and these counties. These counties, especially given rural standing, make the case that we can aim higher.

Bottom Ten Counties

County Percent ranking Last year Ranking
Benton 0.79 78 73
Anoka 0.13 79 75
Faribault 0.09 80 80
Isanti 0.06 81 79
Pine 0.01 82 86
Kanabec 0 83 82
Martin 0 84 84
Mille Lacs 0 85 85
Ramsey 0 86 81
Washington 0 87 76

There’s not much change in the bottom list. Harder to go lower than 1 percent. But it’s interesting to look at the counties on the list. Ramsey County ranks third for access to 100/20 and lands 86 for Gig access. Anoka is number 11 with access to 25/3 and number 79 here.

Looking at these reports for several years, I’ve seen the leap-frogging that can happen when a community is focused on (or limited or funded) to a specific speed. Usually I’ve seen it with access to 25/3. A community aims and succeeds and they are top of the game for a limited time. More recently we’ve seen that those “successful” communities become ineligible for funding for improvement. The thirst for broadband is ever increasing with new applications and post pandemic reliance on remote access. The once successful communities get left behind like the Little League baseball player who stops practicing. I think the top of the Gig chart are the communities that are ready.

County Percent ranking
Clearwater 99.59 1
Beltrami 99.23 2
Stevens 96.79 3
Cook 94.5 4
Red Lake 93.85 5
Lake 93.23 6
Pennington 92.86 7
Lincoln 88.88 8
Steele 86.73 9
Olmsted 80.56 10
Kittson 80.13 11
Lac qui Parle 79.23 12
Winona 76.09 13
Wadena 75.89 14
Grant 71.99 15
Jackson 68.84 16
Itasca 67.64 17
Dodge 65.96 18
Wabasha 65.86 19
Freeborn 65.15 20
Marshall 55.33 21
Goodhue 54.73 22
Hubbard 54.15 23
Big Stone 52.94 24
Cottonwood 50.2 25
Houston 49.76 26
Mahnomen 49.14 27
Rock 47.94 28
Rice 47.52 29
Swift 47.52 30
Morrison 44.24 31
Sibley 43.92 32
Crow Wing 42.54 33
Polk 40.95 34
Norman 40.7 35
Pope 39.91 36
Scott 39.06 37
Roseau 36.59 38
Todd 36.06 39
Carver 34.8 40
Becker 33.9 41
Douglas 32.35 42
Cass 31.28 43
Fillmore 26.94 44
Renville 26.93 45
Waseca 26.12 46
Wilkin 26.04 47
Mower 25.1 48
Lake of the Woods 22.81 49
Otter Tail 20.76 50
Watonwan 18.58 51
Hennepin 17.62 52
Nicollet 17.47 53
Clay 17.12 54
Chippewa 15.86 55
Aiktin 15.58 56
Nobles 14.96 57
Traverse 14.57 58
Pipestone 12.85 59
Stearns 12.31 60
Meeker 10.72 61
Wright 9.59 62
McLeod 8.81 63
Chisago 7.7 64
Koochiching 7.51 65
Lyon 7.11 66
St. Louis 6.97 67
Redwood 6.47 68
Le Sueur 5.16 69
Dakota 4.96 70
Murray 4.66 71
Brown 4.01 72
Carlton 4.01 73
Sherburne 3.6 74
Blue Earth 2.79 75
Kandiyohi 1.73 76
Yellow Medicine 1.25 77
Benton 0.79 78
Anoka 0.13 79
Faribault 0.09 80
Isanti 0.06 81
Pine 0.01 82
Kanabec 0 83
Martin 0 84
Mille Lacs 0 85
Ramsey 0 86
Washington 0 87

Source: Connected Nation, Oct. 2021.

Oct 2021 MN County Ranking at speeds of 25/3. How does your county rank?

The Office of Broadband Development has released the county broadband maps and numbers; the data was collected by October 2021. For archival reasons, I’ll do three different posting looking at:

Top 10 Commentary

The speed goal for 2022 is ubiquitous access to speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 up. Rankings are posted below but also available as a spreadsheet. The good news is that the top 9 counties have more than 99 percent covered. There has been little change in the top 10 counties since last reporting.

Bottom 10 Commentary

The bad news is that the bottom 10 have less than 70 percent coverage. The bottom ranking is also pretty similar with one exception: Isanti went from 78.8 percent coverage to 59.75 coverage this year, which drops them from 66 to 84 ranking. This is because of a change from census block data to more granular data from CenturyLink. (Both CenturyLink and Charter/Spectrum went with more granular reporting and that has had an impact on numbers.)

Biggest Changers

A couple of counties saw big movement. Faribault went from 35 to 17 rank – although the percentage of coverage didn’t increase much, the competition for those with over 90 percent coverage is close. That’s a good sign! Redwood went from 73 to 62. Again, a little percentage gain can mean a lot. Like Isanti mentioned above, a few counties lost percentage and ranking – possibly due to the change from census block to location reporting. Those counties with greatest change in rank include: Rice, Sherburne, St Louis, Wright, Stearns and Swift. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t reflection a change in coverage as much as a correction/change in reporting.

County percent ranking
Red Lake 99.99 1
Ramsey 99.95 2
Rock 99.93 3
Lac qui Parle 99.84 4
Clearwater 99.72 5
Beltrami 99.43 6
Lincoln 99.33 7
Pennington 99.24 8
Stevens 99.22 9
Hennepin 98.97 10
Anoka 98.23 11
Big Stone 98.22 12
Swift 97.72 13
Dakota 97.48 14
Washington 96.45 15
Hubbard 96.36 16
Faribault 96.32 17
Wadena 95.88 18
Grant 95.35 19
Cook 94.50 20
Olmsted 94.48 21
Clay 93.80 22
Lake 93.34 23
Scott 93.29 24
Houston 92.65 25
Polk 92.55 26
Cass 92.48 27
Itasca 92.38 28
Sherburne 92.25 29
Carver 92.11 30
Otter Tail 91.50 31
Becker 90.29 32
Benton 89.74 33
Rice 89.58 34
Stearns 89.10 35
Winona 88.59 36
Steele 88.22 37
Douglas 88.20 38
Mower 87.51 39
Wright 86.72 40
Crow Wing 86.68 41
Freeborn 86.62 42
Kandiyohi 86.54 43
Roseau 85.84 44
Dodge 84.84 45
Brown 84.66 46
Nobles 83.74 47
Lyon 83.57 48
Nicollet 83.40 49
Mahnomen 83.24 50
Wilkin 83.02 51
Chippewa 82.93 52
Pope 82.73 53
Blue Earth 82.48 54
St. Louis 81.95 55
Pipestone 81.52 56
Martin 81.45 57
McLeod 80.56 58
Goodhue 80.32 59
Kittson 80.20 60
Norman 79.43 61
Redwood 78.90 62
Marshall 77.90 63
Watonwan 77.17 64
Waseca 76.36 65
Koochiching 75.94 66
Chisago 75.86 67
Le Sueur 75.59 68
Lake of the Woods 75.18 69
Morrison 74.67 70
Meeker 74.42 71
Wabasha 73.90 72
Cottonwood 73.80 73
Renville 73.48 74
Todd 72.94 75
Mille Lacs 70.53 76
Fillmore 70.35 77
Jackson 69.33 78
Traverse 67.87 79
Aitkin 62.36 81
Sibley 67.32 80
Carlton 62.07 82
Yellow Medicine 61.90 83
Isanti 59.75 84
Murray 57.83 85
Pine 46.01 86
Kanabec 36.41 87
Source: Connected Nation, Oct. 2021.


EVENT Nov 1: MN Broadband Task Force monthly meeting

I will plan to attend and I will livestream. Everyone is welcome to attend the actual meeting and there’s always time for public comment – but sometimes it’s easier to view on Facebook.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
November 1, 2021
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Click here to join the meeting
Join with a video conferencing device
Video Conference ID: 115 972 031 9
Alternate VTC instructions

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from October 5, 2021 Meeting
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Office of Broadband Development (OBD) Update
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.  Regional Gatherings Overview – Benya Kraus, Executive Director, Lead for America
  • 10:45 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.  Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Mapping and Speed Goal
  • 11:10 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.  Break
  • 11:20 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.  Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Accessibility, Affordability and Education
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Un/Underserved and Funding
  • 12:10 p.m. – 12:20 p.m.  Next Steps for Subgroups and Draft Report
  • 12:20 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, December Meeting Plans, Wrap-up


OPPORTUNITIES: Two jobs open at MN Office of Broadband Development

There are two positions open at the Office of Broadband Development:

Grants Specialist Coordinator – Broadband Grants Administrator

The Broadband Grants Administrator position exists as part of the Office of Broadband Development. The Office develops and administers programs designed to achieve high quality broadband access for all Minnesotans and to support and promote the skills necessary to adopt and use broadband tools for economic, educational, health, and institutional benefits. The incumbent will develop, promote, implement, and provide technical assistance for state and federally funded financing programs for the Office of Broadband Development. This position will support and maximize Minnesota entities’ participation in federally funded broadband infrastructure programs. This position also conducts program evaluation, reporting and administers programs including:
• Border-to-Border Infrastructure Grant Program: which provides state and federal financing for DEED approved broadband infrastructure expansion projects
• Digital literacy, broadband adoption and use programs DEED is committed to radically increasing economic impacts for individuals and businesses that face systematic barriers to growth.
This position will contribute to efforts to build a positive internal culture that makes DEED an extraordinary place to work! If you want to make an impact and help people create possibilities, come and be a part of our amazing team!

State Program Administrator – Broadband Program Assistant

The Broadband Program Assistant position exists to assist in the administration of projects and programs for the Office of Broadband Development. This includes preliminary review and evaluation of grant applications, contract processing and grant bookkeeping and reporting. The incumbent will also provide technical and organizational support of projects and task forces, as well as coordinate and manage marketing materials, communication announcements and inquiries. The position is responsible for examining, processing, and tracking invoices, expenses, and acquisitions to ensure accuracy and prompt payment using electronic and paper filing and database systems. The Broadband Program Assistant also provides technical assistance to clients and responds to client inquiries with program information.

The jobs are open until November 4. You would be working with good people and hopefully soon in a position to helping Minnesota communities get better broadband.

MN Broadband Task Force Sep Meeting: Education acerbated needs and creative tech solutions during pandemic

Today the MN Broadband Task Force heard from folks who work to help families and children get and use the technology they need – especially in these times of distance and hybrid learning. They also heard from folks involved with Blandin Foundation Accelerate!, a program that supported and recharged some of the least served communities in Minnesota. (Blandin in looking for a new cohort of Accelerate communities!)

Hand outs from the day:

TF Connected MN MN Broadband Task Force_09.15.21 Final
TF MilleLacs slides broadband task force 9.15.21
TF Online Learning Update – 9-2021

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from July 28, 2021 Meeting Continue reading

EVENT Sep 15: MN Broadband Task Force monthly meeting (topic: education)

The meeting is virtual; I plan to attend and will livestream – although the meeting is open to the public and you too can join directly…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

September 15, 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Join with a video conferencing device

Video Conference ID: 111 512 968 3

Alternate VTC instructions

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from July 28, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Office of Broadband Development Update

10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. MN Department of Education Online/Distance Learning Presentation
Jeff Plaman, Online and Digital Learning Specialist

10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.  East Central MN Rural Broadband Panel
Heidi Steinmetz, Kanabec County Economic Development Director;
Lezlie Sauter, Pine County Economic Development Coordinator;
Beth Gruber, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures Director of Planning & Community Engagement

11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break

11:20 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Partnership for a ConnectedMN (Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation)
Anne Hoyt Taff, Associate Vice President of Community Impact
Dustin Moretz, Community Initiatives Program Manager

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ECMECC Digital Navigator Project
Marc Johnson, ECMECC
Dihanna Fedder, Digital Navigator, Pine City Public Schools

12:00 p.m. – 12:20 p.m.  Subgroup Reports

12:20 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, October Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

EVENT July 28: MN Broadband Task Force July Meeting

The MN Broadband Task Force is meeting next Wednesday. It is open to the public and there is always time for public comment. I will be livestreaming via Facebook too for folks who don’t want to join the meeting…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
July 28, 2021
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
ZoomGov meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
(669) 254-5252
Meeting ID: 161 491 0984
Passcode: 258350

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from June 14, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  OBD Update

  • Angie Dickison, OBD Executive Director
  • Diane Wells, OBD Deputy Director

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Connecting Minnesota: MnDOT’s Fiber Optic Partnership Study

  • Kristin R. White, Executive Director, Connected & Automated Vehicles Office (CAV-X)

11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break

11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. CNS Broadband Operations Map Demo

  • Paul Solsrud, Product Manager, Cooperative Network Services, LLC

11:50 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.   Subgroup Updates

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, September Meeting Plans, Wrap-up


Office of Broadband Development on $70 Million to Border to Border Broadband Grant Program

The Office of Broadband Development outlines some of the details of the $70 million the legislature recently approved for broadband…

The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program funds the expansion of broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved. The grant program was created in Minn. Stat. 116J.395 in 2014. The legislative focus of this grant program is to provide state resources that help make the financial case for new and existing providers to invest in building broadband infrastructure into unserved and underserved areas of the state.

The Border to Border Broadband Grant Program has historically been funded with state general fund revenues. State funding enabled OBD to open the grant application period within 30 days of the appropriation being authorized.  In the 2021 Special Session, the legislature has directed DEED to submit an application to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for $70 million of Minnesota’s capital projects fund allocation under Public Law 117-2 (the American Recovery Plan Act) to fund the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program over the next two fiscal years. The preliminary guidance from Treasury, as well as the legislative appropriation language, indicates that there will be a state application required to be submitted to Treasury for the state to access this funding. There will also be federal standards regarding how the funding can be used which are not yet known. Once Treasury has issued further guidance and clarified the application process, OBD will be able to provide more information regarding the FY22 Border to Border Broadband Grant Program’s anticipated timeline, application, and requirements.

OBD intends to follow state law guidelines for the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program, while building in any measures necessary to comply with federal requirements associated with use of the capital projects fund for the FY22 grant round. If you are not familiar with the state grant program, you may want to review the information on the OBD website at Broadband Grant Program / Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development ( until further information is available.

Please continue to visit the Office of Broadband Development website to stay up to date on the Border to Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program.

OBD has also prepared a Grant Application Template for communities to use as a resource if they are considering using Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for broadband infrastructure.

MRBC Update: Senate Tucks Broadband Funding into Jobs Omnibus Bill

An update from the MN Broadband Coalition…

Senate Tucks Broadband Funding into Jobs Omnibus Bill
The Minnesota Senate amended the Jobs and Economic Development Omnibus Bill on Monday, June 21 to include $70 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program. As we have said in this space before, the Legislature’s final weeks are fluid, and nothing is a sure thing until the vote is completed on a bill. Such is the case with broadband funding this week.
Legislative leadership’s plan for broadband was to include it in a bonding bill. However, as the special session has progressed, Senate leadership became less confident in the prospects of a bonding bill meeting the supermajority threshold necessary to pass the House. Since regular budget bills require a simple majority, they decided to add the broadband funding to the Jobs Omnibus Bill. For those keeping score at home, this is broadband’s third home this year: agriculture, bonding, and now jobs.
The Senate took up the Jobs bill Tuesday, June 22 and eventually passed it 45-21.
We do not know what the House will do with this bill or if the Jobs bill will be the final home for broadband this year. Regardless, the funding is agreed upon by the House, Senate, and Governor and we are optimistic they will not leave Saint Paul without funding it. Leaders have said they want to have the budget closed up by Friday. The state will officially shut down on July 1 without a budget, but various aspects of state government—including campground reservations, state employee layoffs, and road construction projects—will start winding down by the end of this week if the Legislature doesn’t act. They have lots of incentive to get the job done! We will keep you updated.

EVENT Today (3pm): HF8 (Sundin) Agriculture and Broadband Budget Omnibus

Just got notice on this meeting. One quick note – this is to discussion funding the Office of Broadband Development NOT the Border to Border grants. Those have been moved to infrastructure. Depending on …

AGENDA – Ways and Means Committee – Monday, June 14, 3:00PM (or 1 hour after floor session adjourns, whichever is later) – Remote Hearing by Zoom


-HF13 (Lillie) Legacy Fund Budget Omnibus

-HF8 (Sundin) Agriculture and Broadband Budget Omnibus

Info on broadband is on the final page of the bill language…


21.15 The sumsshown in the columns marked “Appropriations” are appropriated to the agency​

21.16 and for the purposes specified in this article. The appropriations are from the general fund,​

21.17 or another named fund, and are available for the fiscal years indicated for each purpose.​

21.18 The figures “2022” and “2023” used in this article mean that the appropriations listed under​

21.19 them are available for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, or June 30, 2023, respectively.​

21.20 “The first year” is fiscal year 2022. “The second year” is fiscal year 2023. “The biennium”​

21.21 is fiscal years 2022 and 2023.​


21.23 Available for the Year​

21.24 Ending June 30​

21.25 2022​ 2023​ $​ 350,000​ $​ 350,000​



21.28 $350,000 each year is for the Office of​

21.29 Broadband Development.

Depending on when it actually starts, I suspect I won’t be able to attend but here’s the info…

Meeting documents will be posted on the House Ways and Means Committee website at

Public Viewing Information:

This remote hearing will be live-streamed via the House webcast schedule page:

MN Broadband Task Force June 2021: broadband and people with disabilities, Emergency Broadband Benefits and MN Leg Update

The Minnesota Broadband Task Force met. They heard from Arc Minnesota on the impact of broadband (good and bad) on people with autism and other disabilities. They also heard from someone from the FCC on the ins and outs on the Emergency Broadband Benefits. They got an update on broadband in the MN legislature, combined with a comment at the end meeting on federal funding. The concern is that funding for MN grants has moved from Ag bill to Infrastructure bonding. The good news is that the Senate has greatly increased their proposed budget for broadband. The bad news is that is likely a starting/bargaining place. The other bad news is that changes in federal policy and lack of specificity in eligible households may create a conflict between what MN and the Feds are doing.

Full notes:

Legislative Update

Today is first day of special session. Workgroups have met behind closed doors. It’s been slow. End of fiscal year is June 30.

Broadband has been confusing. They kept the Office of Broadband Development budget in Ag and program budget (grants) is now in infrastructure. The OBD budget is pretty much set but the grant funding is still in play. Senate wants to put $179 million (entire infrastructure budget) into broadband.

Q: What about the need for majority votes?
A: Not sure how that plays out when this is federal funds into bonding.

Broadband is bipartisan so the hope is that this is something they will push through.

Q: Should the Task Force send a letter?
A: Good point.


Presentation by Alicia Munson, Chief Program Officer, The Arc Minnesota and Maren Christenson, Multicultural Autism Action Network/Arc Minnesota Board of Directors

We address the needs of kids with autism, who often come from families without a lot of resources .Access to broadband is a big part of providing services.

One big barrier for our clients is stigma.

Programmatic Values:

  • Human and Civil Rights
  • Self-Advocacy and Self Direction
  • Equity and Belonging
  • Racial and Disability Justice

Broadband Access and the Disability Community

  • Education
  • Healthcare and quality
  • Neighborhood and built environment
  • Social and community context
  • Economic stability

Online tools (such as Zoom meetings) have made things more accessible for some people, depending on disability and broadband access.

You might think that most people with people disabilities live in the Twin Cities. Percentage-wise that isn’t true and comparing maps you can see there are some areas with low broadband and high disability percentage.

Policy Recommendations

  • OBD job opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Interagency collaboration
  • Representation for people with disabilities on Task Force
  • Broadband grants – consider weighting grants based on work with people with disabilities
  • K12 Connect Forward Initiative
  • Grants to Supplement tech access
  • Ongoing tech support


FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Presentation by Dave Savolaine, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division, FCC

What is EBB? (Learn more: It can mean:

  • $50/month subsidy for broadband – but paid to provider
  • $75/month subsidy for broadband on tribal area
  • $100 one-time discount for computer if you buy through your provider
  • (reduced bill for customer not a check)

Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

How long will this continue?

  • Until the funds run out OR six months after the Dep of Health decide the pandemic is over



  • Working on plans for an in-person meeting.
  • Heard from Chris Mitchell
  • Going to hear from Community Broadband Access Network


  • No recent meetings (although some met in May)
  • Looking for a speaker from industry – guy from Lumen didn’t work out
  • Paul Solsrud with talk about CNS mapping tool


  • Nothing new to share


  • They have maybe found someone to write the next task force report.
  • The July agenda is set

Biden made recommendations on America Rescue Funds. At first it looked good for broadband. But not they are focus on households without “reliable access to 25/3” and there’s no real definition for this. AND combine that with the movement at State level of funding from Ag to bond infrastructure – and we’re in danger of having funding get lost in the red tape.

July agenda

  • CNS (mapping)
  • Dep of Transportation (IoT)

EVENT June 14: MN Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Everyone is welcome and they always leave room for public comments. I plan to livestream on Facebook too…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

June 14, 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

ZoomGov meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

(669) 254-5252

Meeting ID: 161 548 9756

Passcode: 543376

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from May 24, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Legislative Update by Deven Bowdry, DEED

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Presentation by Alicia Munson, Chief Program Officer, The Arc Minnesota and Maren Christenson, Multicultural Autism Action Network/Arc Minnesota Board of Directors

11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break

11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Presentation by Dave Savolaine, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division, FCC

11:50 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Subgroup Updates

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, July Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

Minnesota State CIO looks at MN broadband tools

Governing covers a presentation from CIOs from Colorado, California and Minnesota about how each state is handling broadband. Tarek Tomes (MN CIO) answered questions about Minnesota.

Which department addresses broadband?

In Minnesota, broadband efforts are housed within the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Tomes explained, given the inextricable link between access to connectivity and the overall economic health of the state. “[Having] broadband in economic development is ideal because the connection between what happens in the economy and broadband access is so intertwined,” he said. Minnesota IT Services, led by Tomes, does run MNET, Minnesota’s Network for Enterprise Telecommunications, a statewide network that provides connectivity for state agencies, localities, schools and health-care institutions .

Is there State investment in broadband?

In Minnesota, Tomes described the “border-to-border grant program.” Established in 2013, Tomes said it has supported more than $120 million in broadband development in the state. He also pointed to Minnesota’s broadband task force as important to taking a big-picture look at what funding opportunities will work best for which part of the state.