Broadband at Senate Committee on Ag, Rural Dev, and Housing Finance Notes & Video

Today the MN Senate Committee on Ag, Rural Development, and Housing Finance heard about broadband. The Committee heard from Angie Dickison and Diane Wells from the Office of Broadband Development on the details of the Office, the grants and progress toward the state broadband speeds for 2022 and 2026. Then Senator Draheim introduced HF3049, recommending one time $30 million additional funds for the broadband grant program.

Finally the Committee heard  from Jane Leonard, Kevin Larson and Brent Christensen in supportive of the bill. NO one voices any concerns and the bill way laid over for possible conclusion in the omnibus.

The video also include Senator Westrom on the Rural Finance Authority.

Broadband Overview from Minnesota Office of Broadband Development

– Angie Dickison, Broadband Development Manager
– Diane Wells, Telecommunications Manager

Here is the 4 element approach to the #MNBroadband model:

  • Statutory goals
  • Data (mapping program)
  • Broadband Office & Task Force
  • Grants

The Office of Development does more than grants. They coordinate and number of efforts to expand broadband.

Broadband mapping: We have snapshots of where we stand today. We can see improvement toward the 2022 speed goals. We can also see counties that need more progress – where less than 50 percent of households have access to 25/3. We also see the maps for 2026 – we have some counties that are there, more are not.

496 citi es where 25 percent of more have fiber.
62 cities with more than 50 percent lacking access to 25/ 3

How does federal funding impact state funding? We have a map of these areas. We have had some projects that have combined funds to bring higher speeds to those federal funded areas.

Senator Draheim: introduces: S.F. 3049: Broadband development grant program annual statutory appropriation establishment.

Asking for additional resources ($30 million) from general fund to supplement the #mnbroadbnad grant. Businesses, farmers, telehealth and online entertainment need better broadband to reach the 9 percent unserved areas.

Jane Leonard speaking for MN Broadband Coalition:
Thanks to everyone for their interest and attention. I’ve worked with broadband since out aim for a 56k in each community. More recently have worked with the Office of Broadband Development. Investment in broadband will touch every sector. IN 2018, the broadband Task Force recommended $70M per biennium – this increase of $30M will get us there.

Kevin Larson for Rural Counties:
Here to support SF3049 and thank the Legislature for supporting it. Broadband is essential for rural communities

Brent Christensen MN Telecom Alliance:
If this bill passes and is signed into law, it does not mean we’re done but it gets us closer. We won’t need support forever, but we will need it for a while. The last people getting broadband will be the most expensive. We have 5 years of evidence indicating that this program works.

Laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus

EVENT Feb 24: Broadband at Senate Committee on Ag, Rural Development, and Housing Finance

I am planning to attend and will plan to livestream…

Monday, February 24, 2020 – 3:00 PM
Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance
Chair: Sen. Torrey N. Westrom
3 p.m.
Room 1150 Minnesota Senate Bldg.
S.F. 3408-Westrom: Rural Finance Authority bond issue and appropriation.
Broadband Overview from Minnesota Office of Broadband Development
– Angie Dickison, Broadband Development Manager
– Diane Wells, Telecommunications Manager
S.F. 3049-Draheim: Broadband development grant program annual statutory appropriation establishment.

Update from MN Broadband Coalition: upcoming meetings and call to action

From the MN Broadband Coalition…

Broadband Funding to be Heard in House and Senate; Contact your Legislator
Saint Paul—We received the news earlier this week that HF 3029—the broadband funding bill for an additional $30 million each year authored by Rep. Rob Ecklund—will be heard in the House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division on Wednesday, February 26. The Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Finance Committee will hear SF 3049 on Monday, February 24. This bill is identical to HF 3029 and is being carried by Sen. Rich Draheim. These hearings will give committee members an opportunity to hear from the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition and other advocates about why funding for the program is critically important.
Because the Legislature funded only $40 million in last year’s biennial budget, the Coalition is requesting an additional $30 million each year to match the $70 million recommendation of the 2018 Governor’s Broadband Task Force.
Last year, the Office of Broadband Development received $70 million in applications but only had $20 million to disburse. Well-crafted grant applications were turned away because the Office did not have enough funding to fully meet the need. That’s exactly why the Coalition is advocating for the inclusion of HF 3029 and SF 3049 in this year’s supplemental budget bill. We know that there is significant unmet need and thousands of Minnesotans without access to broadband service across the state. We are excited to have the bill heard in the House and Senate in the same week!
February Revenue Forecast
Minnesota Management and Budget will release its February Budget and Economic Forecast on February 27. This report tells us the overall economic health of the state as well as if the state has additional revenue to spend on a supplemental budget. The November Revenue Forecast indicated the state had a healthy $1 billion surplus. A strong February Revenue Forecast would make additional broadband funding more likely.
Governor’s Supplemental Budget
We expect Governor Walz to release his supplemental budget request in the weeks following the February Revenue Forecast. He and his team are making decisions right now about what items will be included should there be a surplus. Last month he endorsed $30 million in one-time funding for the grant program.
Now that HF 3029 and SF 3049 have been introduced and will be given hearings, we’re asking you to reach out to your legislators to urge them to support long-term, full funding for the Border-to-Border Grant Program. Let them know why broadband funding is important to your community. If your community has already received a grant, tell them how it’s changed your community for the better—tell your story!
Find Your Legislators With This Tool
In addition, please reach out to Governor Walz to tell him to include $30 million in long-term funding in his supplemental budget proposal.
Office of Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan
130 State Capitol
75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone: 651-201-3400
Meeting Reminder: Tuesday, February 25
A full Coalition meeting will be held  this coming Tuesday, February 25, from 3:00 – 4:30 pm at the League of Minnesota Cities offices. A full agenda has been attached to this email and is available at
Day on the Hill – Registration Opens Next Week
Registration for the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition 2020 Day on the Hill will be opening soon. We are currently working on the web registration portal and will send along a note when it is ready. This annual tradition will be held on March 12, so please mark your calendars and plan to attend. It is a fantastic opportunity for you to network with other advocates and speak directly to your legislators and state leaders about the importance of broadband.

Comparison of States’ broadband speed goals and investments

The State Broadband Leaders Network (SBLN) has created an interactive map of broadband plans and initiatives by state. It’s similar to the work recently gather by the Pew’s State Broadband Policy Explorer.  Pew’s work would be helpful if you wanted to take a deep dive into a state’s (or a few states) broadband policy. It’s also well organized if you want to compare specific policies – like you has statewide policy or activity on pole attachments.

SBLN has a clickable map where you can get a high level look at what’s happening in each state. Over the weekend, I took a deeper dive into that info to come up with a quick comparison what states are doing in terms of speed goals and committed funding. Unfortunately, it’s not an apples to apples comparison. Some states have been investing for years. Some state of speed goals where others don’t have goals but at least they have defined broadband. Some states set goals last year, some set them a few years ago. The age of those goals is showing.

The other issue is that the information is often buried in a state website. I did a comparison of state initiatives back in 2016 so I knew that would be an issue. I decided to make this a quicker job so there’s a larger margin of error but there are also resources (State Broadband Leaders Network (SBLN) and State Broadband Policy Explorer) to get more info now. But for a high level look this version is easy to take in.

From a very high level, I think the FCC and Minnesota have set the bar. You’ll see a lot of goals of 25/3 Mbps, which is the FCC standard and Minnesota’s 2022 state goal. You’ll see a bunch of states with question marks; those are states where I didn’t see a lot of state level activity. And there were a few standouts  for speed:

  • Washington 150/150 by 2028
  • Hawaii Gig by 2018
  • Iowa 100/100
  • Vermont 100/100 by 2024

And for funding:

  • California $645 million
  • Illinois $400 million
  • Indiana $100 million
  • New York $500 million

Minnesota has been a leader in the field. The “Minnesota Model” has been touted for over a year now and I saw it mentioned in a few footnotes in other states. But to continue to be a leader, it may be time to freshen up the goals and the commitment.

Here’s the comparison:

State Goals/Investment
Alabama 10/1
Alaska ?
Arizona Fund: $3 M
Arkansas Speed: 25/3

Fund: $25 M

California Speed: 10/1 by 2022

Fund: $645 M

Colorado Speed: 25/3

Fund: $20 M since 2016

Connecticut ?
Delaware ?
Florida ?
Georgia Speed: 25/3
Hawaii Speed: Gig by 2018

Fund: $20 M

Idaho ?
Illinois Speed: 100/20 by 2028

Fund: $400 M

Indiana Speed: 100/10

Fund: $100 M

Iowa Speed: 100/100

Fund: $5 M

Kansas ?
Kentucky ?
Louisiana Speed: 100/100 by 2029
Maine Speed: 25/3

Fund: $13 M

Maryland Fund: $10 M
Massachusetts Speed: 25/3

Fund: $40 M

Michigan Speed: Gig by 2026

Fund: $20 M

Minnesota Speed: 100/20 by 2026

Fund: $40 M

Mississippi ?
Missouri Speed: 25/3

Fund: $5

Montana Fund: match for e-rate
Nebraska Speed: 10/1

Fund: USF for hospitals

Nevada Fund: $2 M for schools
New Hampshire ?
New Jersey ?
New Mexico Speed: 4/1 – but 100 Mpbs for business
New York Speed: 25/3 in remote areas

Fund: $500 M

North Carolina Speed: 25/3

Fund: $10 M

North Dakota ?
Ohio ?
Oklahoma ?
Oregon ?
Pennsylvania Speed: 25/3
Rhode Island Fund: $15 M e-rate match
South Carolina ?
South Dakota Speed: 25/3 by 2022 and to be #1 in the nation
Tennessee Speed: 25/3

Fund: $20 M in 2020

Texas Speed: 25/3
Utah ?
Vermont Speed: 100/100 by 2024

Fund: $20 M

Virginia Speed: 25/3 by 2022

Fund: $19 M

Washington Speed: 150/150 by 2028

Fund: $20 M in 2019

West Virginia Speed: 25/3

Fund: $1.5 M

Wisconsin Speed: 25/3

Fund: $48 M

Wyoming Speed: 25/3 residential Gig/100 Mbps business

Fund: $10 M


MN bills related or relying on broadband

I’m trying to keep a list of bills in the world of broadband. These are bills I hope to keep an eye on, but less likely to attend meetings on them. Please give me a shout if you have an update on any of these bills or seem one I missed. There’s sure to be a few more – but I know some of these are already in meetings so I wanted to get this list out there.

County auditors authorized to transmit ballots electronically to persons with disabilities.
Authors Reps: Freiberg ; Dehn ; Bernardy ; Klevorn ; Long ; Huot
Authors Sens: Rest ; Kent ; Carlson ; Laine

Telemedicine evaluations allowed to be used for erectile dysfunction medication prescribing.
Authors Reps: Schomacker ; Morrison ; Albright ; Moran
Authors Sens: Howe ; Abeler

A bill for an act relating to education; requiring online education upon withdrawal from school
Authors Sens: Howe ; Koran

Website Accessibility Grant Advisory Council established, grants to cities and counties to improve website accessibility funding provided, and money appropriated.
Authors Reps: Elkins



SF3071/ HF3010A bill for an act relating to public safety; requiring a government entity to obtain a search warrant before accessing electronic communication information
Authors Reps: Lesch
Authors Sens: Hall, Limmer, Dibble, and Relph 



SF3072/HF3012A bill for an act relating to public safety; enabling reporting of information related to use of electronic location tracking warrants

Authors Reps: Lesch

Authors Sens: Limmer, Abeler, and Newman


SF3074/ HF3009A bill for an act relating to public safety; regulating the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by law enforcement agencies

Authors Reps: Lesch ; Moller ; Xiong, J. ; Lucero ; Noor ; Scott

Authors Sens: Limmer, Abeler, and Newman


SF3210A bill for an act relating to telecommunications; increasing the civil penalties for unlawful robocalls; amending Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 325E.31.

Referred to the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection Finance and Policy.

Authors Sens: Senators Draheim, Koran, Eken, Jensen, and Goggin


HF. 3504,A bill for an act relating to education; limiting the use of individual-use screens in preschool and kindergarten; appropriating money; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 124D.
Authors Reps: Morrison, Mann, Richardson and Stephenson

Rep Ecklund to announces re-election highlighting broadband work

Mesabi Daily News reports…

State Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, announced Tuesday that he is seeking re-election to the Minnesota House of Representatives in November, and will again seek the DFL party endorsement. Ecklund is currently serving his third term representing District 3A in the House, which includes all or part of Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties.

He mentions his work in broadband…

In Greater Minnesota, Ecklund has worked to boost investments in high-speed broadband infrastructure.

“Families, students and businesses all depend on this 21st-century technology, and in 2019, he successfully championed legislation to deliver $40 million in funding toward the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program over two years,” according to the press release. “He is also a strong advocate for northern Minnesota’s heritage including outdoor recreation opportunities like game and fish habitat, parks and trails, and economic opportunities through mining, forestry, tourism and emerging industries.

MN Broadband Task Force Notes Feb 2020 at Lake o’Lakes: precision ag, 5G and fixed wireless

Today the MN Broadband Task Force met at Land o’Lakes in Arden Hills. We got a tour of their tasting facilities, more importantly we heard about the innovations they have been working on for precision ag. It’s amazing the info they can get via apps, drones, mapping and some real world engagement. There’s an app that a farmer can use to track his crop in the field. If he sees an anomaly, he can stop, scan the produce and send back to the folks mixing the crop nutrients and on the fly treatment for sections of the crops can change based on need. Well I say in real time but it seems that’s only possible where broadband is sufficient and we learned that a drone image of a crop can be 5 GB, which can take almost 4 hours to upload with a 3Mbps connection. Suddenly Land o’Lakes’ interest in rural broadband is clear.

We also learned about 5G and fixed wireless. The important thing to learn about 5G – is that not all flavors are created equal. Today we learned about 5G+ (mmWave), 5G (Sub 6 GHZ)  and 5G evolution (akin to LTE). There are difference between the three. 5G (mmWave) is the top of the line option for urban areas. It’s what we read about when the Superbowl came to town. And they said it will not be coming to rural areas because the reach of 5G/mmWave is 250 meters from the tower.

With fixed wireless, there’s licensed and unlicensed. Unlicensed wireless may experience interference from nearly networks and is obliged to try not to interfere with other networks. Again there’s a range of speeds and distances the network can travel without degradation.

You can see the meeting video or read more complete notes below. The audio may not be great but to be fair, it wasn’t great in the room either.

Approved minutes from last month (above)…

The Task Force did send a message to the Governor supporting the $30 million in surplus funding for broadband grants. Commissioner Grove was happy. The Governor has received the message.


Amanda Neely on Ag Tech Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at Land o’Lakes

Digital Transformation

  • Data collection & aggregation
  • Form productivity
  • Digital transformation
  • Insights and efficiencies

Built proprietary precision ag tools

  • Using data to become more predictable requires technology
  • Use satellite imagery to get maps and conditions to the farmer
  • Add in chemistry to predict and text changes
  • App is on the phone – but can scan plant to get tested remotely
  • To get precise about precision ag is having the broadband to pinpoint exact locations in the field

Question: do you look at soil health?
Yes – we often to test in April before planting. And we have soil maps

We need farmers to read online, buy online and interact online. That requires broadband. They need way more than 25/3 to interact!

We have a host of partners but the key is being able to communicate with each. And we are trying to smooth adoption for farmer by streamlining as much as we can. TO get the farmer the info they need (spatial data) that need a lot of broadband.

Drone pictures for precision ag can be 5 gigabytes. How long would that take to upload? Almost 4 hours at 3 Mbps.

Question: How is US doing compared to others
Europe is pretty advanced due to regulations. Outside of Europe, we are far ahead.

Andy Sackreiter AT&T on 5G

They are marketing 3 flavors of 5G

  • We will never see a 5G+ mmWave network in rural areas; it’s more like a hotspot application because the 5G+ travels 300-500 feet.
  • 5G (Sub 6 GHZ)  – uses the same infrastructure as 4G. It may have decent deployment in MN – will make announcements in June.
  • 5G evolution (advanced LTE) – eventually it may replace LTE

Question: Do all of 5Gs meet standard of 5G?
Not 5G evolution

Question: Are these all symmetrical?
Not in the field.

AT&T enables massive IoT with Low Power WAN – works well with small data transactions (like turning a sprinkler off and on) the battery is long lasting.

Localizing Cellular Connectivity – seems to act like a local proxy cache

How long will it take to get 5g Sub 6 GHZ to all of MN?
It may take a few years to get Minnesota covered with 5G Sub 6 GHZ.

How can we smooth the path to 5G Sub 6 GHZ deployment?
Les red tape is helpful?

Fiber deployments in rural areas can be hard for smaller providers with the red tape required.

Ben Wiechman Arvig on fixed wireless

Fiber going to a tower or building

Signal strength is like volume in a crowded room

Communication (Spectral) Efficienty is like conversation at a distance

Channel width is lanes of a highway – AND Simplified: 75Mbps using a single 20 MHz channel

Unlicensed – means you put up with interference and try not to interfere with others

Licensed – mean you have exclusive use of a channel

  • 900 MHz – 1-3 miles
  • 2.4 GHz – 5-7 miles 50/10 Mbps
  • CBRS 3-5 miles 25/3ish Mbps (up to 100/20 with additional channels
  • mmWave – 250 meters 500/500Mbps
  • satellite – serve of last resort because the latency is too slow for any interaction – voice, gaming, tech support…

Ag Implications

  • IoT sensors likely to be 4G-5G
  • FarmBeats (Microsofter TVWS) – challenges with connectivity to the farm and distribution on the farm
  • Portable connectivity makes sense – wind farms, drilling rigs, mobile grain fryers

The channel with 2.4 GHz unlicensed is getting close enough to reach customers but far enough to decrease interference. A typical customer base might be 150 customers per tower but you really need fiber backhaul to meet their needs. You need 50 customers per tower to break even in 3 years.