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.

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting notes: FirstNet and Internet of Things

Today the Task Force learned about FirstNet and the Internet of Things (IoT). Both made the case that the need for better broadband throughout the state to take advantage of improved safety communication and to take advantage of the IoT. The speaker pointed out that most IoT applications require narrowband access – but narrowband access requires the back haul of broadband.

The Task Force also talked about their final report. There was some discussion to create a roadmap to lead Minnesota to successfully accomplish the 2026 goals. (Learn more from the handouts.)

Below are full notes and video – a warning that I had a terrible time with the video. Not sure if the problem was the network, my phone or most likely a combination of both!

Full notes Continue reading

Next MN Broadband Task Force meeting – April 3 in St Paul

The next Minnesota Broadband Task Force meeting in April 3 in St Paul. I will plan to attend, livestream and post my notes later. BUT if you’re in the area and have something to say, they always make time for public comments.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
April 3, 2018
Administration Building
Room 116B (first floor, off main lobby)
50 Sherburne Ave.
St. Paul, MN
10:00 a.m. – 2:45 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. FirstNet Panel

  • Sheriff Richard Stanek, Hennepin County Sheriff; FirstNet board member
  • Corey Draack, AT&T
  • Melinda Miller, Department of Public Safety

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Workgroup

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Cybersecurity Update from Minnesota IT Services

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

2:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Workgroup Report Back

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. 2018 Report Outline

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.  Next Meeting and Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting notes: superbowl technology and talk about lowering definition of broadband

The Task Force learned about the ins and outs of the communication technology around the Superbowl. They also heard from a fixed wireless provider. It led to some interesting discussions about the definition of broadband. The fixed wireless provider thought that 25/3 (which is the state goal for broadband by 2022) was too steep a climb because he had customers that were satisfied with lower speeds. That led to other people discussing the definition.

It was an interesting juxtaposition to hear about the huge investments, the 7.2 terabytes of data transferred, and awesome speeds experienced downtown Minneapolis during the Superbowl and the push to lower the definition of broadband in rural areas so that we could get people lower speeds more quickly. Some folks seemed to recognize that would lead to tiered services based on location. And having spent time in the field recently, I have heard folks in rural areas say they want faster speeds because they want to run businesses, do homework and access telehealth options. That is why the Task Force recommended and the legislature put into place state speed goals of 25/3 by 2022 and 100/20 by 2026.

The Task Force also talked about plans for the final report, considering the role of a future Task Force and how to capture the attention of legislators.

Notes from the day: Continue reading