MN PUC will hold prehearing conference on LTD Broadband’s ETC designation

I feel like today’s news is really just an addendum to yesterday’s post (MTA & MREA submit a petition to the MN PUC to suspect LTD Broadband’s ETC designation while considering revocation). The follow up is that a prehearing conference has been set for April 24 and the Institute for Local Self Reliance has submitted a file a notice of appearance.

MN Senate Omnibus bill passed through another committee with $100M for broadband

KNSI Radio reports

The Senate agriculture omnibus bill passed through another committee Wednesday with near unanimous bipartisan support.

The Senate Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Committee gave the green light for $100 million to help farmers in greater Minnesota with broadband access, soil health and livestock. …

Some highlights include:

  • $100 million to expand broadband access throughout the state.
  • $14 million for a grain indemnity fund to protect Minnesota farmers.
  • $2 million in soil health equipment grants to help farmers make their farmland more resilient to extreme weather events, retain topsoil, build organic matter, and promote water quality.
  • $1 million to support emerging farmers with farm down payment assistance.
  • $944,000 in investments to support livestock processing.
  • $1.2 million over four years to provide services for beginning and emerging farmers.

The bill now moves to the Senate Finance Committee.

Do we need another push to get more voices on the MN digital equity plan team?

The MN Office of Broadband Development put out a call to get communities involved in preparing a digital equity plan that will lead the state into a place for more equitable technology practices and be submitted to federal funders to help maximize flow of federal funds into the state to support the plan…

If you are interested in helping to shape Minnesota’s digital equity plan, there are three ways you can assist. For now, you can establish a Digital Connection Committee and register it with OBD by March 15, 2023. Many of these committees will be eligible to apply for a mini-grant of up to $4000—those applications are due March 3. Then, beginning April 3, you can use data to tell OBD your community or organization’s digital equity story. You can also join a committee near you and ask how to become involved. Or, once drafted, you can provide feedback on the Digital Equity Plan (approximately late August through late September). Stay up to date on the planning process by visiting OBD’s website.

They recently gave an update on how that push went…

Throughout February and March, OBD received over 90 Digital Connection Committee (DCC) registrations and 70 Assessing Digital Inclusion mini-grant applications. We are thrilled!
DCCs are Minnesota’s strategy for ensuring our state’s digital equity plan truly belongs to Minnesota. Between now and June 30, DCCs can submit data, stories, and other information about local digital inclusion strengths, needs, and goals for inclusion in the plan.
To register a DCC or to see a map (updates coming soon) of committees statewide, visit OBD’s digital inclusion webpage. DCC registrations are accepted on a rolling basis; registrations received by April 7 will be able to participate fully in contributing information for the plan. Please contact Hannah Buckland at with any questions.

They got a great response but are they getting all the voices they need?

Thanks to Jason Brazier at Literacy Minnesota for sending me two maps looking at where the local Digital Connection Committees (DCCs) are located and a map that shows digital equity (or inequity) status in each county. (The darker the color the better off the county is with digital equity.)

Map of Digital Equity (left) | Locations of Digital Connection Committees (right)

As you can see, the areas with the greatest need are in counties that do not have local DCCs, which means those communities are likely to be underrepresented. There are 14 counties (listed below) and only three of them are home to a DCC. A glance at the map and scan through the directory list and it’s clear that areas near cities and larger towns (Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester) or with local colleges (Crookston, Northfield, Mankato) have DCCs. There are DCCs that are defined by subject specialty and span a statewide geography, such as the MN Alliance Boys and Girls Club but that is different level of representation that having the local Boys and Girls Club in Cass County lead the effort.

We are missing voices!

It’s not too late to reach out to the areas and people who aren’t on the list, which is why I’ve listed the target counties below. If they can get registered in the next week, they can participate fully in contributing to the plan. So I’m reaching out to readers to reach out to colleagues, cousins and counterparts in these areas to see if there is a likely leader for this effort. Keep in mind, these are the least connected counties so picking up a phone might be more effective that Tweeting.

Finally, I’m just looking at geography and as a factor because my work focuses on geography. That’s my lens. If your daily lens is different, use it to look at existing DCCs, see who is missing and reach out to them. For example, I don’t see a group that is obviously focused on agriculture, folks with disabilities or people experiencing homelessness. You may see something else. If they aren’t in the room, the planners won’t know what they need.

  1. Aitkin County – 1 DCC
  2. Cass County
  3. Beltrami County
  4. Clearwater County
  5. Kanabec County
  6. Kittson County
  7. Lake of the Woods County
  8. Mahnomen County
  9. Mille Lacs County
  10. Morrison County
  11. Nobles County
  12. Otter Tail County – 1 DCC
  13. Pine County – 1 DCC
  14. Redwood County


MTA & MREA submit a petition to the MN PUC to suspect LTD Broadband’s ETC designation while considering revocation

When last we left our heroes at the PUC, they had decided to continue to move forward looking at revoking LTD Broadband’s ETC designation.  Then the prehearing conference was moved from March 6 to March 13, 2023. But as of today there is more news; MTA and MREA are asking the PUC to suspend LTD Broadband’s ETC status while they are under consideration for ETC revocation. It seems to make sense, especially in terms of reducing the chances of replaying the RDOF situation where LTD got exclusive access to federal funds, was disqualified and now those fund will not be invested in Minnesota (at least not in the same way).

Today, the Minnesota Telecom Alliance and Minnesota Rural Electric Association submitted a petition to initiate a proceeding to revoke the expanded eligible telecommunications carrier (“ETC”) designation of LTD Broadband LLC (“LTD”) and deny LTD’s funding certification for 2023. Not all of the documents have been made public (due to trade secrets) but here’s the high level info…


Enclosed via e-Filing, please find the Motion to Certify and the Motion to Suspend ETC Designation (with attachments), including both Public and Highly Confidential Trade Secret versions of the Motion to Suspend and attachments (Declarations of Larry Thompson and Kristine Szabo) on behalf of Minnesota Telecom Alliance and Minnesota Rural Electric Association in the above-entitled docket. Minn. R. 1400.600 provides that, should other parties wish to contest a motion, they must file a written response with the judge and serve copies on all parties, within ten working days after the motion is received.

Petition to certify

The Minnesota Telecom Alliance (“MTA”) and Minnesota Rural Electric Association (“MREA”) (“Petitioners”) hereby respectfully request that, pursuant to Minn. R. 1400.7600; the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”):

(1) Certify to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (the “Commission”) both the Stay granted in the Third Prehearing Order dated January 18, 20231 (“Stay Order”) and the Petitioners’ March 29, 2023 Motion to Suspend the Expanded ETC Designation of LTD Broadband LLC (“LTD”) (“Motion to Suspend”), and

(2) Require parties to respond to this Motion to Certify within 10 working days after it is received if they wish to contest this Motion to Certify. 2

Both the Stay Order and Motion to Suspend relate to the effects and ramifications of the Federal Communication Commission’s (“FCC’s”) decision to deny LTD’s long-form application. As the Stay Order recognizes, and as explained below, it would be appropriate for the Commission to address these matters and provide guidance.3

There are more details. And there are public documents available Part 1 Motion to Suspend and Attachments – Public.pdf and Part 2 Motion to Suspend and Attachments – Public.pdf; as well as documents that aren’t available to the public.

As with so many legal documents and arguments, lots of time is spent addressing the formalities that aren’t as important to the average reader, but here’s a section that I think gets to the root of the need…

A final determination by the Commission on the Motion to Suspend would materially advance the ultimate termination of the hearing.
Minnesota Rule 1400.7600(B) directs consideration of:
[W]hether a final determination by the agency on the motion would materially advance the ultimate termination of the hearing….
The Stay Order provides that the contested case hearing process will not resume until the FCC makes a ruling on LTD’s appeal of the denial of its long-form.5 As explained in the Motion to Suspend, deferring action on LTD’s ETC designation until the FCC makes that ruling would expose the over 160,000 Minnesotans in LTD’s Expanded ETC Area to the loss of substantial federal BEAD and Minnesota BTB funding if the FCC Bureau’s decision is reversed, as LTD has
requested. As also explained in the Motion to Suspend, the Commission would not have the time or ability to prevent such a reversal from leading to ineligibility for these funds.
The Stay Order assumed that the Commission could act to correct problems regarding the use of RDOF support after the FCC rules, stating:
In addition, there will be a window, at least six weeks, for the parties in this proceeding to reconvene to decide next steps if the FCC does reverse course.6
Unfortunately, the ineligibility trigger for the BEAD and the Minnesota BTB programs is FCC authorization for RDOF support. There is no provision in the BEAD processes for subsequent corrective action by the Commission if the FCC authorizes RDOF support. This combination leaves Minnesotans in the unserved locations encompassed by LTD’s expanded ETC designation at great risk of the Commission being unable to meet its obligations to protect their interests if the FCC reverses the FCC Bureau decision. Moreover, the mere possibility of reversal will likely discourage potential applicants from seeking BEAD or BTB funding for locations in Expanded
ETC Area.

Rep Pursell notes drop from $276M for broadband to $100M in MN House

KYMN Radio reports

The House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee, of which Pursell is Vice Chair, has been given $48 million to work with. She noted that there will be $100 million for the expansion of broadband internet into rural areas that will be part of the Ag budget eventually, but right now it has its own budget line item.

As the chief author of the broadband bill, Pursell expressed some disappointment with the amount that has been allocated, but said it is important to make some sort of investment immediately to get things moving.

“My original bill was for $276 million dollars over two years. The targets came out to less than half of that amount, but it will still be the largest investment Minnesota will have ever made. We’ve been promised funds from the federal government, but because it’s unclear how long it might take to get those funds here, we’re taking action in our state now. We cannot afford to miss another construction season and so we’ll be getting Minnesotans who deserve to be connected to the internet [set up] this year with these funds.”

The omnibus bills will be heard in committees this week and then make their way to the House Floor.

Lawmakers (Sen Klobuchar & Rep Craig) introduce bipartisan legislation to expand access to rural broadband

Senator Klobuchar helped lead the pack in the Senate…

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand broadband access to rural communities. The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act would strengthen funding mechanisms for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF), which promotes universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services. Currently, the USF is primarily funded through landline fees, disproportionately impacting seniors, who are more likely to use landlines than other Americans. …

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand broadband access to rural communities. The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act would strengthen funding mechanisms for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF), which promotes universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services. Currently, the USF is primarily funded through landline fees, disproportionately impacting seniors, who are more likely to use landlines than other Americans.

US Representative Angie Craig helped lead the pack in the House…

Tuesday, U.S. Representative Angie Craig helped introduce the Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act to reform Federal Communications Commission (FCC) practices and expand broadband access to more rural Minnesotans.

The bill would direct the FCC to modernize the system they use to fund broadband and telecommunications expansion to ensure low-income and rural communities can continue to use the program.


MN Broadband Task Force final meeting: Legislative update, details on federal funds, hopes for future

Today was the final meeting of this iteration of the MN Broadband Task Force. There was a lot of gratitude for everyone involved and a hope that efforts to get broadband broadband to everyone continues. There is a concern that policymaker and community leaders think that the federal funding will provide a fix to everyone. But it’s not enough money and that money is still years away.

Full notes: Continue reading

EVENT March 27: MN Broadband Task Force final meeting

The last meeting of this iteration of the MN Broadband Task Force happens tomorrow…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Monday, March 27, 2023

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


10 River Park Plaza

St. Paul, MN  55107

use main entrance, plenty of free parking


or Virtually via Teams

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10:00 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, and Approval of Minutes from February 22 meeting – Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

10:05 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcome from Comcast –  Kalyn Hove, Regional Senior Vice President, Midwest Region

10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Legislative Update – Deven Bowdry, Government Relations Coordinator for DEED

10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m. Office of Broadband Development Update – Bree Maki, Executive Director

10:40 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. NTIA update – Tom Karst, Federal Program Officer, Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth

11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.  Break

11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. National Skills Coalition Digital Equity Presentation – Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Senior Fellow, National Skills Coalition

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. “Around the Table -Thoughts of Wisdom” from the outgoing Task Force members

12:15 p.m. – 12:20 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, Wrap-up

12:20 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.  Lunch

OPPORTUNITY: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband seeking member applications

I’ve posted about this before – but the deadline (April 3) is coming up and it seems like there’s a push to get the word out, which means they are waiting to hear from you!

Are you interested in serving with a group to influence broadband policy in Minnesota? Do you have time to volunteer to serve on a Task Force that will make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on digital inclusion and broadband availability across the state? Do you know someone who may be a strong advocate and representative on this topic?  The Walz/Flanagan Administration will be making appointments to the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband soon!


The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband was created under Executive Order 19-10 and is a multi-stakeholder body created to advise the executive and legislative branches on broadband policy, including strategies for successfully achieving the state broadband goals, comprehensive assessment of digital inclusion issues and gaps, and strategies for unlocking the benefits of universal access to broadband for all communities in Minnesota. And, the Task Force consists of fifteen members who are appointed by the Governor and have experience or interest in broadband matters. The members must represent a balance of broadband interests, including: residential and business consumers, local governments, libraries, K-12 and higher education institutions, tribal interests, healthcare, broadband providers, economic development, agriculture, rural development, workforce development, and labor interests. The Task Force meets monthly and submits an annual report no later than December 31 each year.  This appointment is through the rest of the current Governor’s Term.  To apply, see the instructions below.

To learn more or read the current Task Force’s report, please visit Broadband Task Force / Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (

For questions, contact the Office of Broadband Development at the MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development at or by calling 651-259-7610.

Applications should be submitted no later than Monday, April 3, 2023 to receive full consideration.




Governor’s Task Force On Broadband

Vacancies: 15 Seats — Member


Visit the Open Positions page.
Scroll down to find the correct Agency/Board/Council.
Choose the correct seat type, and click button that says APPLY
The system will walk you through creating an application profile.

Page 2 of the application will now allow you to attach the following documents:
• Letter of Interest
• Resume or Biography

Applicants are encouraged to use the online application as the Appointing Authority will have access to your information as soon as it is submitted.

Applications submitted via downloadable application may experience some delay in reaching the Appointing Authority.
Paper applications may be submitted by email to:

or by mail or in person to:

Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State
180 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
St Paul, MN 55155-1299

In accordance with the Minnesota Open Appointments Law, the Secretary of State acts as an administrator in publishing vacancies, receiving applications and recording appointments. Applications will be reviewed and appointments made by the appointing authorities; questions about specific vacancies and appointments should be directed to the appointing authority. Applications are kept on file for a one-year period.


MN Farmers Union members still list broadband as a top priority

Faribault Daily News reports

listening session hosted Saturday by the Minnesota Farmers Union gave farmers the opportunity to share their perspectives with those writing policy affecting farmers.

Among the top concerns of the rural Minnesotan farmers were health care, accessible internet, sourcing food locally and incentivizing sustainable practices.

Broadband was mentioned…

A few attendees brought up internet access, which they said was lacking for rural Minnesotans. Pursell said her proposed bill (HF2313) would help with rural internet access by allocating $276 million to the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program over the next two years.

OPPORTUNITY: Join the MN Broadband Task Force

I’ve posted about the opportunity before – but I’ve seen only a few folks apply. The current MN Broadband Task Force will sunset after the next meeting but the State is interested in re-starting anew later this year. They are inviting people to apply for a seat at the table now.

The Task Force meetings (mostly) monthly. The meetings have been (mostly) online since COVID. The job is to write an annual report that makes recommendations to the policymakers about how to get better broadband to everyone.

EVENT Mar 28: City of Jenkins looks at subsidizing broadband

Pine and Lakes Echo Journal reports

CITY OF JENKINS CROW WING COUNTY STATE OF MINNSOTA NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED BUSINESS SUBSIDY CRITERIA AND AGREEMENT NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that City Council of Jenkins, Crow Wing County, Minnesota will meet at or after 4:30 p.m. on March 28, 2023 at Jenkins City Hall located at 33861 Cottage Ave, Jenkins, Minnesota 56474 to conduct a public hearing to consider adopting criteria for the granting of business subsidies and also to consider granting a business subsidy to Emily Consolidated Telephone Company dba ECTC under Minnesota Statutes, Sections 116J.993 through 116J.995, as amended, to assist in expanding rural broadband capacity within the Township. A draft copy of the business subsidy criteria and Broadband Development Agreement are available for public inspection on and after the date of this notice by contacting or submitting a written request to the City Clerk.

Rep Pursell introduces bill to allocate money for broadband

KYMN reports

The first Committee Deadline was Friday in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The first of three deadlines in the House, any bill that had not been acted upon favorably in the house of origin by Friday is at least set aside, if not altogether dead.

Representative Kristi Pursell (D-Northfield) said she introduced five bills last week, all of which made the deadline.

One of the bills on which she is working would allocate money for rural broadband throughout the state. Pursell said she has seen the need fr broadband in rural areas firsthand, as a mother, as the executive director of a rural non-profit, and as a former farmer. Having broadband in place throughout Minnesota would have made each of those roles easier.

People have concerns with ACP and future funding

CNBC reports on ACP (Affordable Connectivity Program)…

  • Sixteen million U.S. households have been relying on federal broadband subsidies to keep internet access within their budgets.
  • The current subsidy is expected to run out of funding next year, and unless it is renewed by Congress all of the enrolled households could lose affordable broadband.
  • February marked the two-year anniversary of the debut of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, the first of the two pandemic-era broadband subsidies.

OPPORTUNITY: Seats open for next iteration of the MN Broadband Task Force

The current Minnesota Broadband Task Force holds its last meeting this month. They meet monthly and work toward creating a report that offers recommendations to policymakers about how to expand broadband access and use in Minnesota.

Looks like the Task Force is sunsetting for just a short time. In fact, what it really looks like is that they are just opening the doors to a whole new team to apply. If you’re interested in broadband, you should consider an application. I always think they could use people who are still in the thick of need better broadband in their community.

There are 15 openings. You can check out a list of people who have applied in the past, which is often interesting. You can also see the names of current board members.