Duluth approved digital access master plan and State broadband grant application

Broadband and broadband funding has been a hot topic in Duluth these days, as WDIO reports, it sounds like some decisions were made this week..

The Duluth City Council considered several broadband related resolutions during a meeting Monday evening.

The council did approve resolutions approving the city’s digital access master plan and also approved a resolution which will allow the city to submit an application to the state for a $3.2 million development grant.

However, the council decided to send back to administration a resolution that would establish up to $5,000,000 from the Community Investment Trust Fund to support the Duluth open Access Fiber Pilot Project.

More information on all three resolutions can be found here.

MN Broadband Task Force July 2022: Affordable Connectivity Program and American Connection Corps

The Task Force member heard about Affordable Connectivity Program and Affordable Connectivity ProgramAmerican Connection Corps. It was energizing and informative.

They also got an update from the Office of Broadband Development. The OBD is in the middle of receiving Border to Border applications with hopes of doing a second round of funding later in the fall.

1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from May 20, 2022 Meeting

Meeting the new Task Force member, Phil Stalboerger, VP Public Affairs, Medical Transportation Management

1:40 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Office of Broadband Development Diane Wells, Deputy Director

There are four staff members now. The Digital Equity Application and Letter of Intent were both filed. The BEAD filing is due later. The next deadline is Aug 5, to report that we do want $5 million for broadband planning. The Capitol Projects Funds – we have $70 million from the fund already in the grant project. There’s another $110 million available ($60.2M already spoken for) need to discuss the rest.

Border to Border grants are open now. The deadline to submit an intent to apply has passed. We are going through the stages and hope to be done in September. Hoping to open another grant round later this fall.

We are working to add new staff. Final stages of hiring a Digital Equity Lead. Applications just closed for Executive Director. It will be at least a 2-interview process. Will soon be hiring more grant managers.

1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Affordable Connectivity Program Dave Savolaine, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division, FCC

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. American Connection Corps Updates in Minnesota Benya Kraus, Lead for America Co-Founder and ACC Executive Director

The American Connection Corps is a national nonprofit that matches fellows with rural communities to expand broadband infrastructure and use. They have had great support from Land o’Lakes and Center Care.

We heard from fellows from Otter Tail and Redwood and their efforts to understanding the broadband needs in the community and increasing use. They have done great work with gathering data, mapping out availability and funding opportunities.

We also heard about the importance broadband has in bringing healthcare, especially mental healthcare to rural areas.

3:15 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.  Affordability and Adoption Sub-Group

  • Haven’t met – but talked about a schedule for the future.

3:20 p.m. – 3:25 p.m. Funding, Mapping and Usage Sub-Group

  • Did meet. Making plans for future topics. How can people challenge the maps? How can we track the funds available.

3:25 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Update Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

They are still talking about sending a letter to the PUC about LTD Broadband’s reconsidering ETC status.

3:40 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, August 29 Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

EVENT Jul 13: MN Broadband Task Force 1:30pm today

The MN Broadband Task Force is meeting this afternoon. I will livestream the meeting on Facebook but all are welcome to join the Teams meeting remotely…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Click here to join the meeting
Join with a video conferencing device
mn@m.webex.com
Video Conference ID: 118 809 811 9
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Or call in (audio only)
+1 651-395-7448,,381365715#   United States, St. Paul
Phone Conference ID: 381 365 715#
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  • 1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from May 20, 2022 Meeting
  • 1:40 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Office of Broadband Development Diane Wells, Deputy Director
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Affordable Connectivity Program Dave Savolaine, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division, FCC
  • 2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Break
  • 2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. American Connection Corps Updates in Minnesota Benya Kraus, Lead for America Co-Founder and ACC Executive Director
  • 3:15 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.  Affordability and Adoption Sub-Group
  • 3:20 p.m. – 3:25 p.m. Funding, Mapping and Usage Sub-Group
  • 3:25 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Update Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
  • 3:40 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, August 29 Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

Dates for future MN Broadband Task Force monthly meetings

The news is brief but valuable if you like to attend…

2022 Upcoming Meetings

Meetings are virtual. Instructions for joining will be at the top of the agenda documents.

  • July 13
  • August 29
  • September 29
  • October 24
  • November 17
  • December 5
  • December 19

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting May 2022: Cybersecurity

I’m afraid there’s no video of the meeting but I have handouts to share from the MN Broadband Task Force meeting:

They heard from several experts in the field about cybersecurity. They talked about the Legislature including a letter the Task Force had sent to the policymakers asking them to consider a greater investment in broadband grants than had been on the table…

While we are appreciative that the House included a $25 million investment, we are disappointed that, in this time of a record surplus, it was reduced from its initial $100 million. Any amount will help to expand broadband access, but Minnesota’s broadband expansion efforts will need more than this amount to reach the finish line.

EVENT April 22: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Monthly Meeting

The MN Broadband Task Force is happening on Friday April April 22…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Friday, April 22, 2022

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Join with a video conferencing device

mn@m.webex.com

Video Conference ID: 111 205 119 8

Alternate VTC instructions

Or call in (audio only)

+1 651-395-7448,,702207788#   United States, St. Paul

Phone Conference ID: 702 207 788#

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 March 24, 2022 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Legislative and OBD update

Diane Wells, Deputy Director, DEED Office of Broadband Development

10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.  Update and discussion on subgroup topics from Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.                Break

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Grant Process – role of MMB with IIJA, Capital Projects Fund, and SLFRF Liz Connor, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB)

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, May Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force March Meeting: Fond du Lac story and adoption in MN

Today the MN Broadband Task Force got presentations from two of its members: Jason Hollinday from Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Bernadine Joselyn.

Jason talked about the history of Fond du Lac’s broadband network. They started working on broadband in 2005. They approached all angles – they built demand, wrote grants, realized fiber was the answer and became the fiber broadband provider and ETC (eligible telecom company). They overcame challenges of ruralness and internal capacity.

Bernadine talked about the three legged stool of digital equity – access to broadband, devices and the knowledge to use them. Broadband access is lower in rural areas – in part because of the demographics of rural areas – older people, low income and less education. She included a video of speakers from rural areas on why they appreciated and/or needed better broadband depending on their situation.

The group also looked at what topics they would address in 2022:

  • Funding and investments
  • Updated Mapping and Usage
  • Affordability and adoption

EVENT Mar 24: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband March Agenda

Here’s the agenda for the MN Task Force Meeting on Thursday of this week…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
Thursday, March 24, 2022
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Click here to join the meeting
Video Conference ID: 115 630 774 0
Alternate VTC instructions
Or call in (audio only)
+1 651-395-7448,,807036507#   United States, St. Paul
Phone Conference ID: 807 036 507#

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from February 23, 2022 Meeting
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2022 Session Deven Bowdry, DEED Government Relations Coordinator
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.  Broadband FTTH Development for Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Jason Hollinday, Director of Planning
  • 10:45 a.m. – 11:05 a.m.  Adoption and Challenges in Rural Communities Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin Foundation
  • 11:05 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break
  • 11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Update from Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
  • 11:50am. – 12:50 p.m. Discussion on Subgroup Topics
  • 12:50 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, April Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting Feb 2022 – updates, plans and a bill for a reserve auction

The MN Broadband Task Force met this morning. Much of the meeting was spent reflecting on last year and planning for this year. There were also legislative and funding updates from the Office of Broadband Development. [Added Feb 24: Here’s the MN broadband 101 worksheet that OBD presented to the group.] One interesting fact – they estimate that the cost to deploy broadband to everyone household in Minnesota is $1.3 billion. There was also a discussion on a new bill to help broadband providers reach single remote households through a reserve auction – up to $25,000 per home.

Read on for more complete notes… Continue reading

EVENT Feb 23: MN Broadband Task Force Monthly Meeting – focus on cable industry

Everyone can attend the meeting they have set up, but also I will plan to attend virtually and will livestream on Facebook…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

10:00 a.m. – 1:10 p.m.

 Click here to join the meeting

 

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. – 10:30 a.m. Update from DEED Commissioner Steve Grove

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Update on 2022 Session with Deven Bowdry, DEED Government Relations Coordinator

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Minnesota Cable Communications Association Presentation regarding legislative bill for line extension program with  Anna Boroff, Executive Director

11:05 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Break

11:10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Office of Broadband Development Update with Angie Dickison, Executive Director

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Update from Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Discussion on Subgroup Topics

1:00 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, February Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

OPPORTUNITY: MN Broadband Task Force looking for one member

The Minnesota Secretary of State reports

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State today released the January 2022 notice of vacancies for various state boards, councils and committees that are accepting applications, due 1/22/2022. Minnesotans are encouraged to apply and serve in demonstration of public service. The full list of vacancies are listed below and here: Open Positions.

They are looking for a member for the MN Broadband Task Force…

Governor’s Task Force On Broadband
Vacancies: 1 Seat — Member
You can learn more and see who has applied online.

AT&T’s Paul Weirtz named state president of AT&T Wisconsin (as well as MN)

If you don’t know him from anywhere else, careful readers will know Paul Weirtz from his seat on the MN Broadband Task Force. Wisconsin Business reports that we’re going to have to share him – and congrats to Paul…

AT&T* announced today that Paul Weirtz has been named state president of AT&T Wisconsin.

As president of AT&T Wisconsin, Weirtz will lead all external, government and community affairs efforts for AT&T in the state. Weirtz succeeds Scott VanderSanden, who retired in December after nearly 33 years with the company.

“I am honored to lead AT&T external affairs in the great State of Wisconsin,” said Weirtz. “AT&T has a long history of investing in Wisconsin, and I’m excited to work closely with our team to continue those investments, from expanding our networks to giving back to our local communities.”

Weirtz has more than 22 years with AT&T. In 2013, he was named president of AT&T Minnesota. He has served on the Minnesota Governor’s Broadband Task Force since 2015 and played a key role in the passage of small cell legislation in the state in 2017. He has also held positions in local external affairs and government relations for the company.

As current state president for Minnesota, Weirtz will lead legislative and community affairs operations for both Wisconsin and Minnesota, working closely with legislators, business leaders and other policymakers.

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)

MN Broadband Task Force finalizes annual report

Today the MN Broadband Task Force was all business getting through the brass tacks of the annual report. There were a couple of hot topics or sticky issues. First, in the draft, there was a waiver to allow state funding to go to projects that did not meet the 100/100 standard in areas that are difficult to serve. That has been removed. The reasoning was that public funding should not go to invest in short term solutions, especially when we are in a flux of unprecedented federal funding. There was a lot of discussion on whether to say all recommended funding should come from base budget. Lots of discussion on how to describe satellite – is it a gap technology, is it good enough for people who choose to live in otherwise unserved areas, is it affordable? There was a brief discussion about removing the $5 million cap on state grant projects. It would allow for bigger projects but the group decided to leave that discussion to next year, when hopefully the Office of Broadband Development will be looking at what to do with $180 million proposed funding for broadband. (Fun note – the proposal to get that funding was submitted today.)

Unfortunately, I don’t have a PDF of the document today but with the new PPT format, it’s easy to follow along with the action in the video. I guess that’s a silver lining of COVID – better archive of public meetings.

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

mn@m.webex.com

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