Minnesota Broadband Task Force Meeting Notes: request $100 million for grants and $10 million for Office of Broadband Development

The Task Force met today to hammer out their report. The different committees had submitted their section drafts to John Dukich (from MHTA) to combined them, select recommendations to include and write portions of the report to meet the need. Today they met to modify/approve his draft in their committees then read the report together for any edits or modifications.

Then they met to discuss recommendations, including how much to request for the Office of Broadband Development budget and future grants. After much heated debate they agreed to recommend $10 million for the OBD and $100 million ($50 million per year) for grants.

The debate was about how much to request for grants. Some folks felt that with an expected dip in the State budget that $100 million would be more palatable than the $200 million request last year. Others felt that the outstanding need demanded more funding. It was surprising that many of the providers at the table were most vocal about wanting the lower amount, especially since it seems that the money would likely be invested in their industry.

Here’s the copy of the draft report; you can see video of much of the meeting below.


And here are my notes…  Continue reading

November 2 Minnesota Broadbdand Task Force agenda

I plan to attend and take notes…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
November 2, 2016
Minnesota Senate Office Building-Room 2308
95 University Avenue West
St. Paul, MN 55155

10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. — 10:15 a.m.  Introductions, Approval of Minutes, Public Comments
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.  Update from the Office of Broadband Development (OBD)
  • 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.  Task Force Review and Discussion of Draft Report Content
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.  Task Force Discussion of Policy Recommendations
  • 2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.  Task Force Discussion on Finalizing Report—What and Who
  • 2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Wrap-up, Plans for December Meeting, Adjourn

Minnesota Broadband Task Force Notes: Public comments on challenge process

There were public comments at the Task Force meeting today; that rarely happens. A coalition of rural interests had sent a letter to the Task Force to ask them to focus on three recommendations: fund the Office of Broadband Development, fund the border to border grants and adapt the grant requirements especially to reduce the hindering impact of the current challenge process where incumbent providers can put the kibosh on proposed projects by saying that they have plans to expand their network to include the proposed areas in the next 18 months.

The Broadband Task Force starting to sew together their report today. Each subcommittee (Adoption & Affordability, Regulation and Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies) met today to talk about their section of the report and eventually reported back to the big group.

The writing will continue and should be a mainstay of the meeting next month.

I’m going to include all of the videos here:

And the handouts from the meeting:

Full notes Continue reading

What’s the cost per MB of broadband for a school? $0.73, $11 or $58 depending

MSBA Capitol Connections recently ran an article from Marc Johnson of ECMECC – he has done guest posts here too. Marc knows broadband, education and rural – maybe better than he wants to know it!

He took a look at what schools pay for broadband…


  • The cost per Megabit (Mb) of Internet access for Anoka-Hennepin schools is $0.73. The district purchases 10Gb or 10,000Mb to serve their staff and nearly 38,000 students. The cost is $7,252 per month. That equates to $2.31 per student per year — or about 0.04 percent of the basic general education formula aid provided by the state.

  • In Braham, less than 50 miles north of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, the cost per Mb is $11, which is still $2 below the state average. The Braham Area School District purchases 100Mb to serve their 839 students which equates to $16.16 per student per year — or about 0.2 percent of the formula aid.

  • In west-central Minnesota, the Herman-Norcross School District spends $58 per Mb of Internet access. They purchase 45Mb for their staff and 92 students at an average cost of $2,610 per month. The cost per student per year is $340.43 — or about 5.5 percent of their formula aid.

The difference is shocking! You can read his article for a more eloquent elaboration on how and why it’s shocking, I’ll cut right to the chase and share his recommendations to help schools get better broadband at a rate they can afford…

So, what can we do about this? I suggested the following possibilities to the Task Force.

  • Fully fund the state Telecommunications Equity Aid program. It would cost $7 million per year (an increase from $3.75 million per year to $10.75 million per year) to fully fund Internet access in Minnesota schools for the next five years or more. This program is intended to help equalize telecommunications costs for schools, but now covers only about 40 percent of the cost (after E-rate) leaving a large gap for the schools where costs are highest.

  • Continue to support the E-rate program which provided more than $47 million in funding to Minnesota schools in 2015.

  • Support increased competition among providers (or incentives). We know competition drives down prices.

  • Support economies of scale. While most Minnesota school districts buy Internet access as part of a cooperative, there are opportunities for the cooperatives to work together along with the state to find additional savings.

  • Support the Border to Border grant program and other rural broadband initiatives. While schools themselves can get the access they need, many of our students still cannot.


MN Broadband Task Force Notes: Policy from the provider perspective and library as digital inclusion partner

Today the Task Force met to hear about broadband policies – the VoIP bill and how that’s playing out for Charter and CenturyLink’s take on the Competitive Market Regulation. They also heard from a national expert on how policy is playing out in other states. There’s a big push from all directions to level the regulatory playing field for providers. I think the precaution is ensuring that all consumer perspectives are considered as well.

They also heard from Minnesota Libraries and specifically digital inclusion efforts at St Paul’s Libraries. They learned about the NorthStar Digital Inclusion Standards – which are a set of standards around which one could create curriculum. It’s an approach that helps learners, teachers and other understand what is being taught yet gives room for modifications based on learners, teachers and the ever-changing nature of technology. Continue reading

MN Broadband Task Force August 2016 Meeting: Digital Inclusion

Today the Minnesota Broadband Task Force met to talk about digital inclusion and affordability. They heard from Angela Siefer from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance who spoke about her experience with Digital Inclusion – noting that digital literacy is the most expensive component because as technology changes, the goalposts change. And really we can use increased tech skills.

Several broadband providers spoke about their low-income options. All felt that they were able to meet the needs of their low income customers but needed help getting the message out to more potentials qualified users. Most has made iterations to their original offering based on the needs of customers.

BEVVCOM talked about the potential for added costs to broadband providers from content providers (such as Netflix) who currently charge consumers to access their services. They got a rough rundown on the Federal Lifeline Program. And ended the day with ECMECC talking about how the issue with broadband in the schools in not access so much as affordability.

They ended with a discussion on how to translate the info into policy. Here’s a video on the bulk of that conversation:

Read on for the full notes… Continue reading

Minnesota Broadband Task Force Aug 17 Agenda: Digital Inclusion

I will be there to take notes – but for folks who are able to make it…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
August 17, 2016
Minnesota Senate Office Building-Room 2308
95 University Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55155
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. — 10:15 a.m. Introductions, Approval of Minutes, Public Comments
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Update from the Office of Broadband Development (OBD)
  • 10:30 a.m. — 11:15 a.m. National Digital Inclusion Alliance – Angela Siefer, Director
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Providers Discuss Discounted Broadband Offerings
    Comcast: Meredith Moore Crosby, Director of Community Investment
    Midco: Dan Nelson, Director of Governmental Affairs
    Sjoberg’s: Dick Sjoberg, President
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Commodification of Broadband and Long-Term Implications on Affordability
    BEVCOMM: Jim Beattie
  • 12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Overview of Federal Lifeline Reform—Shannon Heim, Dykema
  • 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Education Perspective on Broadband Affordability – Marc Johnson, East Central Minnesota Education Cable Cooperative (ECMECC)
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Task Force Discussion on Affordability and Recommendations
  • 2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Update from Subcommittees
  • 2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Wrap Up, Plans for September Meeting, Adjourn