Gov Walz continues the MN Broadband Task Force

The Governor has issued an executive order to continue the Broadband Task Force. It’s so new that it seems the applications are available yet – but they should be soon and I will post again as soon as I hear anything. I encourage people to start thinking about the opportunity….

I, Tim Walz, Governor of the State of Minnesota, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and applicable statutes, issue the following Executive Order:

The State has a strong public interest in the continued deployment and use of broadband services to meet the needs for all Minnesota communities, including economic development, healthcare, education, manufacturing, agriculture, public safety, and participation in government and society.

The State adopted broadband goals under Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 237.012. The goal for universal access and high-speed provides that, “it is a state goal that no later than 2022, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to high-speed broadband that provides minimum download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of at least three megabits per second,” and “no later than 2026, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.”

The State created the Office of Broadband Development housed in the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (“DEED”) with the responsibilities outlined in Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 116J.39. The State created the Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program under Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 116J.395. The State has mandated the continued collection of broadband deployment mapping data under Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 116J.397. These activities have been informed by the deliberations and recommendations from previous broadband task forces appointed by the Governor to advise on such matters.

A multi-stakeholder body should to continue 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.

For these reasons, I order that:

  1. The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband (“Task Force”), created under Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 15.0593, will continue to research, recommend, and promote state broadband policy, planning, and initiatives that address state broadband needs and goals.
  2. 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.
  3. The Governor will designate a member to serve as Chair of the Task Force. The Task Force must meet at least ten times per year. The Office of Broadband Development at the DEED will provide logistical and administrative support to the Task Force. The Task Force must engage key broadband stakeholders as advisors in its deliberations.
  4. The Task Force will create an annual report (“Report”) due no later than December 31 each year which includes an inventory and assessment of:
  5. The needs, barriers, issues, and goals for broadband access;
  6. The needs and use of broadband in Minnesota’s education systems, health care system, agriculture and energy sectors, industries and businesses, libraries, governmental operations, federally designated tribal nations, public safety, and other key economic sectors;
  7. Digital inclusion definitions, along with benefits, needs, and strategies for addressing identified gaps;
  8. Broadband availability and accessibility for unserved and underserved populations;
  9. Advances in technologies used to deploy services;
  10. Opportunities to coordinate with federal, state, and local agencies; and
  11. A review of the continued adequacy and appropriateness of the existing statutory broadband goals.
  12. The Report must also include updated recommendations on state-level actions identified during the year to aid and assist in the deployment and adoption of broadband in Minnesota.
  13. The Task Force may identify or prepare technical or white papers on top priority issues concerning broadband in Minnesota.
  14. DEED will provide staffing and administrative support to the Task Force.
  15. Executive Order 11-27 is rescinded.

This Executive Order is effective fifteen days after publication in the State Register and filing with the Secretary of State. It will remain in effect until rescinded by proper authority or until it expires in accordance with Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 4.035, subdivision 3.

Signed on March 29, 2019.

Final Meeting of Gov Dayton’s MN Broadband Task Force

Today was the last meeting of third iteration of the MN Broadband Task Force. The first Task Force (under Gov Pawlenty) had the onerous task of creating something from nothing. They came back with recommendation to create legislation that would set a goal for broadband connectivity and the means of measure it. This latest iteration upgraded those speed goals and encouraged the institution of both the Office of Broadband Development and Minnesota Broadband grant program. The Task Force does not work in a vacuum, we have some dedicated providers, engaged legislators and the Blandin Foundation who have kept the broadband fires burning but the the Task Force has been in instrumental creating what people are calling the Minnesota Model for how to be broadband right.

At the meeting there was clearly momentum to continue to down the path for better broadband and continue with a new Task Force for the new Administration. There was much praise of Danna Mackenzie and Diane Wells at the Office of Broadband Development. And there was a focus on the 2022 goals of ubiquitous broadband coverage at speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. And while that goal is clearly breathing down our neck, the 2026 goals of 100/200 are already nipping at our heels too.

During the meeting the State surplus of $1.5 billion was announced – at another meeting. It would be nice to see some of that go into broadband. The Task Force was sketching out a three-year plan to cost of $70 million per biennium to meet half of the need (assuming 50 percent match from private or local funders) to get to the 2022 goals. It would be awesome to see us leapfrog those goals and dive straight into our future with an eye on 2026 goals!


Final MN Broadband Task Force meeting Dec 6

Sorry for the late notice – but the last MN Broadband Task Force meeting in Dec 6

Here’s the info:

Administration Building
Room 116B (first floor, off main lobby)
50 Sherburne Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55155

  • 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. – Introductions, approval of minutes, public comments
  • 10:20 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Update from Office of Broadband Development
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  – Sen. Eric Pratt, Chair, Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Policy and Finance Committee & Rep. Tim Mahoney, Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division (Invited)
  • 11:00 a.m. – 1:45 a.m. – Final Comments/Thoughts from Task Force Members
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  – Joanna Dornfeld, Chief of Staff, Governor Mark Dayton
  • 12:15 p.m. – Adjourn

Task Force members are invited to attend lunch hosted by the MHTA at the Downtowner Woodfire Grill, 253 West 7th Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 following the meeting.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Releases Final Annual Report

The official, final MN Broadband Task Force Report is released…

The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband released its final Annual Report today, which includes recommendations for Governor Dayton, the legislature, and other policy makers to consider in the 2019 Legislative Session.
The report contains eight recommendations aimed at ensuring every Minnesotan has access to broadband:
 Fund the Office of Broadband Development through the base budget at levels sufficient for it to meet its statutory mandates and create an OBD operating fund to advance and promote programs and projects to improve broadband adoption and use, and the maintain existing partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
 Provide on-going biennial funding of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program at $69.7 million per biennia until the state achieves its broadband speed goals.
 Provide direct funding to the Department of Employment and Economic Development for broadband mapping.
 Establish a legislative cybersecurity commission to enable information-sharing between policy-makers, state agencies, and private industry related to Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, cybersecurity workforce issues and emerging technology, whose scope of work includes: (a) developing legislation to support and strengthen Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, and (b) providing input or recommendations related to developing a multi-year strategic plan to secure Minnesota’s IT environments.

 Continue to understand the advances in technology that will drive both the demand for better broadband access and that will enable the delivery of broadband access to its
 Take action to promote and communicate dig once policies, including development and dissemination of best practices and model policies to state agencies and other
stakeholders. Ensure that agencies with construction oversight, construction funding, and land stewardship responsibilities ensure that they lead by example in implementing “Dig Once” policies which encourage broadband competition and deployment, including
planning, joint use, construction and notification.
 Fully fund the Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) to facilitate broadband in K-12 education and libraries.
 Continue a Minnesota Broadband Task Force as a resource to the Governor and the Legislature on broadband policy with a broad representation of perspectives and
experiences, including provider, community, business and labor interests.
“Over the last seven years Minnesota has made great progress on connecting more households and businesses with broadband,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, chair of the Task Force. “We hope to make additional progress, and need continued, ongoing investment in the Border-to-
Border Broadband Development Grant Program and reliable, consistent funding for the Office of Broadband Development. I hope these are priorities for our next governor.”
The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, created by the Legislature in 2014, provides funding to build the state’s broadband infrastructure and promote broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of the state. The grants provide up to a dollar-for dollar match on funds, not to exceed $5 million for any one project, and are distributed to qualified entities. Since 2014, the program leveraged $110.6 million in matching local and/or private investments, making service available to more than 34,000 households and 5,200 businesses across Minnesota.
“The work of this Task Force has helped shape the debate about broadband policy in Minnesota,” said Don Niles, representing the City of Wadena on the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. “As we release our final report and list of recommendations, we encourage the continuation of a Minnesota Broadband Task Force as a resource to the next Governor and Legislature on broadband policy.”
Minnesota’s universal broadband access and speed goals, originally established in 2010 and updated in 2016, specify that by “no later than 2022, all businesses and homes should have access to high-speed broadband services at a download speed of at least 25 megabits per second
and minimum upload speeds of at least 3 megabits per second,” and that by “no later than 2026, that all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.”
The share of Minnesota households with access to wireline broadband at the state speed goal of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload (25 Mbps/3 Mbps) has increased from 69.64 percent in 2011 to 90.77 percent in March 2018. Nearly 75 percent (73.66 percent) of
Minnesota households now have access to wireline at the 2026 speed goal of 100 Mbps/20 Mbps.
The full report can be found here.
About the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, which is made up of 15 members representing a variety of backgrounds, is charged with developing, implementing and promoting state policy, planning and initiatives to achieve state broadband needs and goals.

MN Broadband Task Force meeting agenda for July 10

I plan to be there and take notes.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
July 10, 2018
State Capitol, Room 316
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
St Paul, MN 55155
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Introductions, approval of minutes, public comments
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Nancy Hoffman, Chisago County EDA, Chair of the MN Rural Broadband Caucus
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Brad Finstad, State Director, USDA Rural Development
  • 11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Update from Office of Broadband Development
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Two Studies: Economic Impact of Broadband and Two Rural CAF II Exchanges
    • Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services
    • Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Review Draft of Annual Report
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Wrap-up/September Meeting Plans

Next MN Broadband Task Force meeting – May 10 in St Paul

The MN Broadband Task Force is meeting tomorrow. I will plan to be there to take notes. Here are the details…

Department of Employment and Economic Development
James J. Hill Conference Room
332 Minnesota St., Suite E200
St. Paul, MN 55101
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Introductions, approval of minutes, public comments

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

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Discussion of Task Force Annual Report Structure and Timeline

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Cybersecurity Update from Minnesota IT Services

  • Johanna Clyborne, Commissioner, Minnesota IT Services
  • Aaron Call, Chief Information Security Officer, Minnesota IT Services

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Education Super Highway

  • Jeff Kang, Greer Ahlquist and Madeline Zdeblick

2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. An Introduction to Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

  • Stephanie Stoudt-Hansen

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Wrap-up/June Meeting Plans

Minnesota’s broadband grant program is detailed as model approach

Government Technology recently posted an article – Rural Broadband’s Only Hope: Thinking Outside the Box? The article details Minnesota’s Border to Border grant program and the bipartisan support through the years that has helped it develop and sustain…

Minnesota is making a success of pushing broadband out to its rural areas by collaborating with rural cooperatives, private providers, and a wireless pilot programs as well, said Danna MacKenzie, executive director of the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development.

The state collaborates with multiplicity of providers to help it meet its goal of border-to-border coverage of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps by the year 2022. By 2026 the state hopes to supply all businesses and homes with access to at least one broadband provider of with download speeds of at least 100 Mbps/20 Mbps.

The Office of Broadband Development also awards grants to providers for its border-to-border program. In 2017 the state legislature allocated $20 million for this program. The grants provide up to 50 percent of project development costs with a maximum grant of $5 million. These grants require the grantee to match the state’s dollars. In the past four years, the state has laid out $85 million for broadband coverage.

One of the strengths of the program, she says, is that it is a framework rather than a rigid plan. These providers “all have different investments, different interests and different specialties,” MacKenzie said. “We have a system and a framework in place that welcomes all these different providers.”

Still, with all this activity surrounding broadband in the state, the issue of rural access is still a problem. Minnesota is ahead of the national average for connectivity, but 39 percent of rural residents have no access to high-speed Internet. Currently 202,000 households in rural areas, or 22 percent, lack access to fixed, nonmobile broadband service at the FCC standard, according to the Minneapolis Star

“We are generally confident that if the state funded the state [grant] program at $35 million a year, we will hit our 2022 goal,” she said.

When the state began to talk about what she calls the federated model of broadband deployment, they had bi-partisan leadership from former Minnesota Gov. Timothy Pawlenty, a Republican, and Democrat Mark Dayton.

And like Oregon, the private providers in Minnesota were worried that the state was fixing to take their business away. “Industry was really concerned about this whole effort,” MacKenzie said. “They were concerned about additional layers of government oversight or regulatory burden. They resisted this for a long time.”

It wasn’t until the decision was made to place the agency in the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and separate from any regulatory agency that the private providers came on board.

“This meant we could play an advocacy role and an investment role separate from the regulatory agency. Once that happened, we tried to create a win for everyone,” she said. “Right now, we have all our major industry groups on board as well with local government, the establishment of our state speed goals gave us our North Star, and it allowed everyone to buy in and have something to work towards.”

While MacKenzie believes that the state can hit the 2022 goal that has been outlined, she struggles with the thought of meeting the sweeping 2026 target with download speeds of at least 100 Mbps/20 Mbps. She is also intrigued by the idea of what small independent cooperatives could bring to the table to help achieve the state’s goals.

“Minnesota is looking at where there might be partnerships between our phone and electric cooperatives, allowing them the opportunity for each to bring their expertise to the table and getting things up and running much faster,” she said.

Some successes have already been seen with a partnership between an electricity and telephone provider in this space, she said.