MN Broadband Task Force Sep Meeting: Education acerbated needs and creative tech solutions during pandemic

Today the MN Broadband Task Force heard from folks who work to help families and children get and use the technology they need – especially in these times of distance and hybrid learning. They also heard from folks involved with Blandin Foundation Accelerate!, a program that supported and recharged some of the least served communities in Minnesota. (Blandin in looking for a new cohort of Accelerate communities!)

Hand outs from the day:

TF Connected MN MN Broadband Task Force_09.15.21 Final
TF MilleLacs slides broadband task force 9.15.21
TF Online Learning Update – 9-2021

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from July 28, 2021 Meeting Continue reading

MN Broadband Task Force July 2021: Automated Vehicles and interactive broadband maps

The MN Broadband Task Force got an update from the MN Office of Broadband Development. Because new funding for grants will be coming from federal sources it sounds like funds will not be released in 2021. The also heard from the State Connected & Automated Vehicles Office and their need for fiber. CAVX is interested in partnering with the Task Force to get better info and better fiber throughout the state. Finally they heard from CNS about their interactive broadband maps.

Continue reading

EVENTS TODAY: MN Broadband Task Force & Blandin Lunch Bunch

A reminder to check out the Task Force meeting this morning and then join us for a late Lunch Bunch to talk about it…

Each month the Blandin Foundation hosts two conversations or lunch bunch sessions. This month the second Lunch Bunch, which focuses on Digital Use and Inclusion, falls on the same day of the MN Broadband Task Force meeting. The Task Force goes from 10am to 12:30 pm. The Lunch Bunch goes from noon to 1pm. So I had an idea. I propose that folks join me at the Task Force (when you can) and that we meet for Lunch Bunch after.

The Task Force holds space at the end of each meeting for public comments. They almost never get comments but I think they would be well served by hearing from folks on the frontlines who need better broadband. So if you have a story to share – I especially invite you to join me in the meeting. If you are interested in watching but not being seen, I livestream the meetings on Facebook too.

Once the Task Force meeting ends, I will pop into the Lunch Bunch meeting and Mary Magnuson has kindly offered to hold open that space until I get there. And I figure we can talk about the Task Force meeting and/or anything related to the Task Force. Over the years I have attended most of the Task Force meetings through the many iterations of the group.

Register now!

EVENT July 28: MN Broadband Task Force July Meeting

The MN Broadband Task Force is meeting next Wednesday. It is open to the public and there is always time for public comment. I will be livestreaming via Facebook too for folks who don’t want to join the meeting…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
July 28, 2021
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
ZoomGov meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
(669) 254-5252
Meeting ID: 161 491 0984
Passcode: 258350

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from June 14, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  OBD Update

  • Angie Dickison, OBD Executive Director
  • Diane Wells, OBD Deputy Director

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Connecting Minnesota: MnDOT’s Fiber Optic Partnership Study

  • Kristin R. White, Executive Director, Connected & Automated Vehicles Office (CAV-X)

11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break

11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. CNS Broadband Operations Map Demo

  • Paul Solsrud, Product Manager, Cooperative Network Services, LLC

11:50 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.   Subgroup Updates

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, September Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

 

MN Broadband Task Force June 2021: broadband and people with disabilities, Emergency Broadband Benefits and MN Leg Update

The Minnesota Broadband Task Force met. They heard from Arc Minnesota on the impact of broadband (good and bad) on people with autism and other disabilities. They also heard from someone from the FCC on the ins and outs on the Emergency Broadband Benefits. They got an update on broadband in the MN legislature, combined with a comment at the end meeting on federal funding. The concern is that funding for MN grants has moved from Ag bill to Infrastructure bonding. The good news is that the Senate has greatly increased their proposed budget for broadband. The bad news is that is likely a starting/bargaining place. The other bad news is that changes in federal policy and lack of specificity in eligible households may create a conflict between what MN and the Feds are doing.

Full notes:

Legislative Update

Today is first day of special session. Workgroups have met behind closed doors. It’s been slow. End of fiscal year is June 30.

Broadband has been confusing. They kept the Office of Broadband Development budget in Ag and program budget (grants) is now in infrastructure. The OBD budget is pretty much set but the grant funding is still in play. Senate wants to put $179 million (entire infrastructure budget) into broadband.

Q: What about the need for majority votes?
A: Not sure how that plays out when this is federal funds into bonding.

Broadband is bipartisan so the hope is that this is something they will push through.

Q: Should the Task Force send a letter?
A: Good point.

PRESENTATION

Presentation by Alicia Munson, Chief Program Officer, The Arc Minnesota and Maren Christenson, Multicultural Autism Action Network/Arc Minnesota Board of Directors

We address the needs of kids with autism, who often come from families without a lot of resources .Access to broadband is a big part of providing services.

One big barrier for our clients is stigma.

Programmatic Values:

  • Human and Civil Rights
  • Self-Advocacy and Self Direction
  • Equity and Belonging
  • Racial and Disability Justice

Broadband Access and the Disability Community

  • Education
  • Healthcare and quality
  • Neighborhood and built environment
  • Social and community context
  • Economic stability

Online tools (such as Zoom meetings) have made things more accessible for some people, depending on disability and broadband access.

You might think that most people with people disabilities live in the Twin Cities. Percentage-wise that isn’t true and comparing maps you can see there are some areas with low broadband and high disability percentage.

Policy Recommendations

  • OBD job opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Interagency collaboration
  • Representation for people with disabilities on Task Force
  • Broadband grants – consider weighting grants based on work with people with disabilities
  • K12 Connect Forward Initiative
  • Grants to Supplement tech access
  • Ongoing tech support

PRESENTAION

FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Presentation by Dave Savolaine, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division, FCC

What is EBB? (Learn more: https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit) It can mean:

  • $50/month subsidy for broadband – but paid to provider
  • $75/month subsidy for broadband on tribal area
  • $100 one-time discount for computer if you buy through your provider
  • (reduced bill for customer not a check)

Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

How long will this continue?

  • Until the funds run out OR six months after the Dep of Health decide the pandemic is over

SUBGROUP UPDATES

Yvonne:

  • Working on plans for an in-person meeting.
  • Heard from Chris Mitchell
  • Going to hear from Community Broadband Access Network

Nolan:

  • No recent meetings (although some met in May)
  • Looking for a speaker from industry – guy from Lumen didn’t work out
  • Paul Solsrud with talk about CNS mapping tool

Paul:

  • Nothing new to share

Updates:

  • They have maybe found someone to write the next task force report.
  • The July agenda is set

Biden made recommendations on America Rescue Funds. At first it looked good for broadband. But not they are focus on households without “reliable access to 25/3” and there’s no real definition for this. AND combine that with the movement at State level of funding from Ag to bond infrastructure – and we’re in danger of having funding get lost in the red tape.

July agenda

  • CNS (mapping)
  • Dep of Transportation (IoT)

MRBC Legislative Update: Special Session Broadband Funding

From the MN Broadband Coalition…

Legislature Convenes Special Session
The Minnesota Legislature convened its first Special Session of 2021 on Monday, June 14, at the Capitol in Saint Paul. There is a lengthy list of things legislators need to accomplish, including the constitutionally mandated two-year budget and other priority items like an infrastructure (bonding) bill, police reform measures, various policy bills, a tax bill, and the governor’s emergency powers extension. The state will enter a government shutdown if a budget is not passed by July 1. If this seems like a lot to tackle in two weeks, you’re right. However, leaders expressed optimism this week that they believe the job can be done.
Broadband in the Bonding Bill
Funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program was moved from the Agriculture Committee to the Capital Investment Committee. Legislative leaders said after the regular session ended that the funding will be in the bonding bill and would come from the Capital Projects Fund given to the state through the federal American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress earlier this year. The agreement at the end of the regular session was $70 million over the next two years. A bonding bill requires a supermajority vote in both chambers, so it is more difficult to pass.
Note: Even though the funding is in the bonding bill, the money will not come from state bonds. It will simply be an item within the bonding bill.
We expect House and Senate Capital Investment Committee Chairs will exchange offers several times during the next two weeks, so funding levels and location may change! However, we believe broadband is in the strongest possible position to receive a significant investment.
Call to Action
Keep an eye out for a Call-to-Action letter-writing soon. We will send this out via the Coalition list sometime this week. So, be prepared to have your organization’s members write and call their legislators and the governor about why broadband funding is so important!

EVENT June 14: MN Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Everyone is welcome and they always leave room for public comments. I plan to livestream on Facebook too…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

June 14, 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

ZoomGov meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

(669) 254-5252

Meeting ID: 161 548 9756

Passcode: 543376

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from May 24, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Legislative Update by Deven Bowdry, DEED

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Presentation by Alicia Munson, Chief Program Officer, The Arc Minnesota and Maren Christenson, Multicultural Autism Action Network/Arc Minnesota Board of Directors

11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break

11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Presentation by Dave Savolaine, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division, FCC

11:50 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Subgroup Updates

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, July Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force Mtg May 2021 Notes: Fixed Wireless & State Demographer

Today the Task Force heard from a panel of Fixed Wireless providers. They spoke about advanced in wireless technologies and the range of customers they have. The also heard from Susan Brower, State Demographer. We learned that the state is growing but at a slower rate and that growth is uneven. There’s more growth in urban areas.

Here’s the whole lineup including some of Susan’s slides:

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from April 5, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2021 MN Legislation Deven Bowdry, DEED

Session ended May 17 with no action. But Senate, House and Gov agreed on $70 million over biennium for broadband – not sure if it’s State of Federal funding yet. Funding will not be included in Sen Westrom’s Ag bill. They passed a policy-only bill with nothing related to broadband. It will likely become an infrastructure bill. Spreadsheets expected May 28; June 4 bill language is due; Special session is June 14 – with all new bill numbers.

10:15 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Fixed Wireless Panel – Luke Johnson, Broadband Operations Manager, Meeker Cooperative Light & Power – VIBRANT Broadband Terry Nelson GM/VP, Woodstock Communications Mary Lodin, CEO/Partner and Jay Mankie, CTO/Partner, Genesis Wireless, Tim Johnson, Operations Manager, MVTV Wireless

Questions:

Can fixed wireless provide symmetrical services?
Only at lower speeds 10/10, 20/20 even 50/50 but not up to 100/100

How much is fixed wireless?
$39.95/month to 99.95 – we really need to average $50 per customers to remain sustainable.
We have 300-400 people who only use email; we have others that seem to stream constantly.
Folks can get 25 Mbps for $35/month.
Woodstock has a service that starts at $24.95/month. It’s a legacy from a Moose Lake municipal service and it’s mostly seniors who only email. No streaming.
If we want symmetrical speeds we have to go with fiber.
If someone wants a light package we can serve northern areas but the trees make it difficult. They try to map accordingly.
Costs can be high for end users – and sometimes we need to go to them to help pay for those costs and people do it – especially with fiber? Do people really need FTTH or do the hybrid solutions work.
It might be helpful to have a “bank” of funds to help offset some of these installation costs for folks who need it.

How has COVID impacted demand?
Many people now know they can work from home and many of them will continue working from home. That might not be the case with students.
Evening hours are the busiest for most providers. They built the network for those nighttime peaks; so we were ready for the shift to day time use. For most, they got new customers and upgraded existing customers.
Learned that we need to deploy quicker in rural areas. They were installing 7 days a week. They’re still seeing growth and people are not getting the lower packages; the buy at higher levels.
Sometimes you can get around obstacles.

How can we help you?
What about a program that helps upgrade existing customers? Rather than introduce a faster competitor, but look at who is the incumbents and how can the State help make them faster. Especially in areas where you might have 4 customers per square mile. The customer is there – we just need to upgrade.
Need better education. Wireless had gotten a bad rap – and there are good ways and bad ways to build it. The new technology is a very good solution.

How many residents actually need a Gig – we have to quick chasing these numbers. Getting to 100/100 with today’s technology is difficult but providers feel they can get there in the future. Not sure about higher speeds.

Cost to build a tower:
In Meeker $120,000
300 ft tower $100-175,000
And there’s a 50 percent increase in steel costs

How do you deal with businesses in range but out of line of sight?
We work with them – taking down trees or extending existing towers.

11:10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Minnesota State Demographer Susan Brower

Minnesota had growth but it has slowed, as has the US growth. Our population is getting older. (More people living longer than babies born.) Most growth is in 7-metro counties and up the Highway 94 core. IN rural areas – there’s not as much growth but these areas are not quickly emptying out. It’s more of a stability that most people think.

In rural areas – we are seeing population declines, albeit modest decline. It has picked up in some areas in the last decade. Entirely urban areas are growing.

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, June Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

What are we going to do with RDOF? Can we get the legislature to look at the problem of RDOF closing the door on so many communities that night have qualified for Border to Border grants and are now left in the lurch.

EVENT May 24: MN Broadband Task Force Mtg (featuring Fixed Wireless & MN State Demographer)

The MN Broadband Task Force will be Monday (May 24) from 10am to 12:30pm. I will plan to attend and stream via Facebook. There is always room for public comments if you are able to join. Here’s the agenda…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
May 24, 2021
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Microsoft Teams meeting – Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only) +1 763-317-4323,,974606064#   United States, Plymouth
Phone Conference ID: 974 606 064#
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 April 5, 2021 Meeting
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2021 MN Legislation
    Deven Bowdry, DEED
  • 10:15 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Fixed Wireless Panel
    Luke Johnson, Broadband Operations Manager, Meeker Cooperative Light & Power – VIBRANT Broadband
    Terry Nelson GM/VP, Woodstock Communications
    Mary Lodin, CEO/Partner and Jay Mankie, CTO/Partner, Genesis Wireless
    Tim Johnson, Operations Manager, MVTV Wireless
  • 11:10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Break
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Minnesota State Demographer Susan Brower
  • 12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, June Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force April Mtg archive & video: Angie Craig, LTD Broadband & NCTA

Today the MN Broadband Task Force met. They heard from US Rep Angie Craig, LTD Broadband (big winner of federal broadband contract in MN) and NCTA (A cable association – or lots of cable folks on the board anyway.)

I took high level notes:

Update from the Legislature what are folks recommending broadband funding:

  • MN House: $60 million over two years
  • MN Senate: $40 million first year (will be discussed at Ways and Means Committee – Tuesday, April 6, 5:00pm – Remote Hearing by Zoom
  • MN Gov: still talking about $50 million

Update from Angie Craig:

  • “Broadband is not a luxury; it’s is essential 21st infrastructure. If you have broadband you can start a business from anywhere
  • What are challenges? Politics get in the way of good policy. How it gets paid for is a sticking point for infrastructure.
  • What are challenges? Politics get in the way of good policy. How broadband gets paid for is a sticking point for infrastructure – run deficit or long term investment? The problem is people think in 2-yr increments in DC
  • What do you think of fiber? We need to keep an open mind. We need accurate mapping. Just spoke with @fcc – we can invest in mapping and infrastructure.
  • “A danger for broadband support is that many people have signed no-new-taxes commitments. So while they may support broadband no-new-taxes takes priority. Corporate taxes went from 35 percent to 21 percent – we need to look at that.”

Update from LTD

  • The pandemic proved to them that consumers need symmetrical broadband – which is a change from what they said a few years ago.
  • Symmetrical or asymmetrical? COVID and Zoom have taught us that symmetrical matters. In my neighborhood we couldn’t get cable broadband 35Mbps up and that’s what we needed for all the zooms in my house.”
  • “Our fixed wireless #terragraph (mesh is being tested at Gig up and down. We are fans of hybrid; it makes sense to have more than one tool in the toolbox”
  • Q: “We are in an area that had been working on a #BordertoBrder grant but it was booted because of #RDOF.”
    A:”If you need help sooner, let us know. We can’t do it all at once but we can focus.”
  • “We are looking at deploying aerial fiber rather underground in areas like the Iron Range”

Info on networks during the pandemic from NCTA…

  • Chart shows much greater growth in upload than download traffic. Downstream is still greater than upstream but greatest growth is in upstream.
  • COVID-19 increased internet use by 70%, and streaming by more than 12%.
  • “Videoconferencing is less than 5 percent of overall traffic”

Subgroup Updates:

  1. Paul Wertz: Group did not meet since last meeting.  Fixed wireless panel coming up. Working on getting State Demographer
  2. Nolan Cauthen: Group did not meet since last meeting.
  3. Yvonne: Did meet. Working on speakers – such as ARC, Chris Mitchell, State Demographer.

Questions for the State Demographer:

  • Does broadband access impact other data – have they seen changes where broadband has improved?
  • Any stats on broadband access and local average age?

EVENT April 5: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Meeting

I will attend and plan to livestream on Facebook. Here are the details from the Office of Broadband Development

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband April 5, 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 763-317-4323,,746852807#   United States, Plymouth

Phone Conference ID: 746 852 807#

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 16, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2021 Legislation (Deven Bowdry, DEED)

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Update and conversation with U.S. Rep. Angie Craig

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  LTD Broadband – RDOF Introduction with Corey Hauer (Invited) and Haley Tollefson (Confirmed)

11:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.  Break

11:10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. 2020 Network Performance -The Shift to Home and the Impact to Networks with William Check, SVP, Science & Technology and CTO, NCTA and Matt Tooley, VP of Broadband Technology at NCTA

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.                Subgroup Reports

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.                Public Comment, Other Business, May Meeting Plans, Wrap-up such as May meeting-specific questions/topics for State Demographer? Also presentation by Fixed Wireless Panel planned.

MN Broadband Task Force Feb 2021 Mtg Notes: Leg updated, Electric Coops and American Connection

The Minnesota Broadband Task Force met online today. I have recorded the session below. It requires quite a MacGuvyer setup, which means the sound quality can be less than perfect but here it is. (I’ll post a picture for your amusement.)

They got an update on various bills that have been introduced in Minnesota:

  • HF686/SF1304 – Existing easements held by rural electric cooperatives to be used to provide broadband service authorization
  • HF14/SF22 – Broadband grant program money transfer deposit authorization ($120M from Senate & House)
  • SF945 – Broadband grant program funds transfer- to be heard in Senate on Wed at 3pm
  • SF946 – Broadband grant program funds transfer ($120M plus $50M for unserved areas and requiring less match)
  • SF1186 – Broadband grant program appropriation

Task Force member Brian Krambeer talked about his work at MiEnergy and how and why a electric cooperative might get into proving service. At a high level the answer is twofold: the infrastructure makes providing services easier and their customers want/need it. As he pointed out, providing broadband is a treat; they are bringing services to people who thought they might have to move to get the broadband they need.

The Task Force heard about the work of American Connection a collaboration of 143 organizations (including Land o’Lakes) committed to promoting:

  • Robust investment in broadband at a federal level
  • Federal coordination of that investment working with state and local resources
  • Better mapping

The have done a lot as corporate citizens to get broadband to rural areas, especially during the pandemic. There membership is responsible for 2,900 free hotspots in 49 states. That night look like Land o’Lakes installing a wifi spot in their parking lot for neighbors to access. One of the things that has surprised them is the lack of rural readiness to react to federal opportunities.

Finally the Task Force talked about how they would work in 2021 and the subcommittees that they would form. Many members were interested in being involved in multiple subcommittees – but learned that when too many join any one committee it triggers the need to adhere to open meeting regulations, which means they would have to invite the public in and at least share notes after the fact. The image below outlines their proposed committees and topics based on response form the last meeting.

 2020 Broadband Task Force Meeting: Plans for 2021

The group heard from the Office of Broadband Development about the MN state grants announced yesterday and sources of federal funding. Then they talked about topics they wanted to address throughout the year.

Big topics:

  • The 2020 Broadband Task Force Report is out.
  • The Governor’s budget includes $50 million for broadband grants in year one.
  • The Office of Broadband Development announced grant recipients yesterday.

You can watch the archive – again, I have quite the MacGyver setup to make this happen so please overlook imperfections in the video and notes taken on an old computer below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Notes from the day Continue reading

The 2020 Minnesota Broadband Task Force report is out!

The 2020 Minnesota Broadband Task Force report has been posted on the Office of Broadband Development website.

Here’s a quick take from the Executive Summary:

Minnesota’s approach to broadband infrastructure development and deployment is regarded by many as best in class and considered as a model to follow. The key components that make it so successful are the Border to Border grant matching program, the mapping capabilities, the realistic and forward-looking internet speed goals, and the Office of Broadband Development (OBD). To maintain the leadership position Minnesota has created for itself, the Task Force has evaluated the effectiveness of the program and recommends a number of adjustments to ensure continued progress and guarantee that all Minnesotans have access to adequate broadband service in this new digital age.

The Broadband Grant Program should maintain priority on the 157,000 unserved households as they are unlikely to get service without the grant program. After careful review of the estimated cost to serve those households and applicable federal programs, the Task Force has found that it would be best to continue to fund the Broadband Grant Program at a biennial amount of $120 million. The State should fund the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program as a part of the base budget each year to ensure continued progress unhindered by surpluses or deficits which have caused inconsistent funding. The Task Force has also determined that all future awards and expenditures must be on service that meets or exceeds the 2026 speed goal of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.

And the recommendations:

  • Recommendation #1 Continue to fund the Broadband Grant Program at a biennial amount of $120 million from the base budget each year and ensure that all future expenditures must be on service that meets or exceeds the 2026 speed goal of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.
  • Recommendation #2 The Taskforce recommends the Office of Broadband Development receive an appropriation of $700,000 per biennium from the base budget. That figure is OBD’s estimate of funding needed to maintain current operations.
  • Recommendation #3 Create an Office of Broadband operating annual fund of $1.5 million to promote broadband adoption and use and redress digital inequity.
  • Recommendation #4 Given the condensed construction season in Minnesota, it is critical that permits are issued promptly. The state should convene a working group comprised of all state agencies relating to broadband construction permitting to streamline the process, both in time to issue the permits as well as the permit application process.
  • Recommendation #5 There needs to be more oversight of railroad facilities by the Office of Pipeline Safety. Railroads need to be required to locate their own facilities and need to be encouraged to issue permits promptly.

EVENT Jan 29: MN Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

The MN Broadband Task Force is meeting on Friday. Here’s the login info:

January 29 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Click here to join the meeting Or call in (audio only)
+1 763-317-4323,,989314741# United States, Plymouth
Phone Conference ID: 989 314 741#

Here’s the agenda…

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.                Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from December 18, 2020 Meeting
10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.  Status of 2020 Annual Report
10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.  Office of Broadband Development Update
10:40 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.  Focus for 2021

  • Topics
  • Presenters
  • Meeting Locations (post-virtual meetings)

11:20 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  Break

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  ask Force Organization

  • Subcommittee or Other Structure
  • Assign Topics
  • Assign Task Force Members to Subcommittee or Other Structure

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, February Meeting Plans, Wrap-up