EVENT May 20: MN Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Happening on Wednesday…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
May 20, 2020
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Webex/Conference Call
1-619-377-3319 or 1-888-742-5095, Passcode 3249482049

Meeting link: https://intercall.webex.com/intercall/j.php?MTID=m4fb8155ff38556bf0f042572909fb9c3

Meeting number: 592 448 653

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Approval of Minutes from February, March and April, 2020
  • 10:20 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. St. Louis County Crowdsource Mapping Project-GEO Partners
  • 11:00 a.m. – 11:05 a.m. Break
  • 11:05 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. Midco Presentation on Service Technologies
  • 11:35 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Legislative Update—Deven Bowdry, DEED Government Relations Coordinator
  • 11:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Report out by Economic Development and Digital Inclusion Subgroup (Chair: Bernadine Joselyn; Members: Dale Cook and Micah Myers)
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:10 p.m. Report out by Minnesota Model Subgroup (Chair: Brian Krambeer; Members: Steve Fenske, Shannon Heim, Theresa Sunde, Paul Weirtz)
  • 12:10 p.m. – 12:20 p.m. Report out by Barriers and Technology Subgroup (Co-Chairs: Marc Johnson, Dave Wolf; Members: Nolan Cauthen, Steve Giorgi, Jim Weikum)
  • 12:20 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, June Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force meeting April 2020: video and notes on mapping, COVID, legislative updates

Today they MN Broadband Task Force met virtually. They heard from Senator Smith on the federal funding for broadband (CARES). They heard from Anna Read from Pew Research on their State of States and Broadband report. They heard from Kristi Westbrock at CTC about how life is going for the local provider during the COVID quarantine. They got updates from the three task force subgroups. If I had to pick a couple of random highlights:

  • Anna talked about two things that seemed to help broadband projects: having people dedicated to broadband and revising speed goals.
  • Kristi mentioned that upload speeds have increased since COVID demonstrating their importance for doing work, school and health from home. She also noted that their busy times have shifted to 10am to 2pm and that while they used to start network maintenance at midnight, they now start at 2am because people are now active online until 2am. (So relieved to learn that may family isn’t alone – none of us are sleeping!)
  • Nearly everyone mentioned great concern with the status of broadband mapping. They are notoriously incorrect. Providers and customers agree on this, which is a problem when funding is based on the maps. It was suggested that the State invest in mapping before the RODF applications are closed to ensure that all qualified areas in MN show up as qualified. I think if MN did that they would have a model to show to the rest of the US!
  • At the end of the meeting the Task Force discussed the current MN legislative activity on broadband. Listen to get details but the quick take – House and Senate have bills. Both are being discussed in meetings this week. They will likely hammer out differences in Committee – differences include where the funding comes from.

EVENT April 29: MN Broadband Task Force meeting (virtual)

Here is the agenda and instructions for joining:

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband April 29, 2020

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Webex/Conference Call
1-619-377-3319 or 1-888-742-5095, Passcode 3249482049

Meeting link:


Meeting number: 592 448 653


  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.  Welcome, Introductions, Public Comment
  • 10:05 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.  Comments and Discussion with Sen. Tina Smith on Federal Updates and COVID-19 Funding Work
  • 10:25 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. PEW Trusts presentation by Anna Read
  • 11:10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. CTC Perspective on Challenges Created by COVID-19 by Kristi Westbrock, CEO/General Manager
  • 11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Task Force Members Discuss COVID-19 Impacts
  • 11:45 a.m. – 11:55 a.m. Report out by Minnesota Model Subgroup (Chair: Brian Krambeer; Members: Steve Fenske, Shannon Heim, Theresa Sunde, Paul Weirtz)
  • 11:55 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. Report out by Barriers and Technology Subgroup (Co-Chairs: Marc Johnson, Dave Wolf; Members: Nolan Cauthen, Steve Giorgi, Jim Weikum)
  • 12:05 p.m. – 12:15 p.m. Report out by Economic Development and Digital Inclusion Subgroup (Chair: Bernadine Joselyn; Members: Dale Cook and Micah Myers)


12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.                Other Business/May Meeting Plans/Wrap Up

OPPORTUNITY: MN Broadband Task Force looking for one more member

Here’s the latest from the State…

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State today released notice of vacancies for various state boards, councils and committees that are accepting applications. Minnesotans are encouraged to apply and serve in demonstration of public service. The newest vacancies are listed below, and the full list of 708 vacancies can be found on our website Open Positions.

Applications may be submitted online, and must be submitted within 21 days of the “Publish Date” listed on our Open Positions page, to be assured of full consideration by the appointing authority. Appointing authorities may choose to review applications received by the Secretary of State after the 21 day application period.

Open positions includes one member on Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. 

It looks like the “deadline” is May 6; it’s actually the first date to review. Subtle difference, I’m sure.

MN Broadband Task Force March meeting note: asking leg for funding in light of coronavirus?

The MN Broadband Task Force met via Webex today. They recorded the meeting and I suspect it will be made available – but for now we have my very MacGuyver-esque version. The sounds was hard to hear at times, I’m sure that’s reflected in the video.

The subgroups reported on their initial discussion. (Notes below.) At the end of the meeting (last 30 minutes or so) the Task Force Chair (Teddy) proposed some pretty aggressive recommendations for the Legislature to increase funding (to $76 million) and remove other barriers to encourage faster deployment of broadband.

The Task Force members had more conservative responses to the suggestion and it sounds likely that they will ask for funding but perhaps not the other items. (Notes below.)

Also – I took full notes… Continue reading

MN Broadband Task Force March 27 meeting moved online

Update from the Office of Broadband Development

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
March 27, 2020
Webex/Conference Call
1-619-377-3319 or 1-888-742-5095, Passcode 3249482049

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.                Welcome, Introductions, Public Comment

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.                General discussion of subgroup role and full task force

10:30 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.                Subgroup 1: Minnesota Model—Work plan, challenges, deliverables (Chair: Shannon Heim; Members: Steve Fenske, Brian Krambeer, Theresa Sunde, Paul Weirtz)

10:55 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.                Subgroup 2: Barriers and Technology—Work plan, challenges, deliverables (Co-Chairs: Marc Johnson, Dave Wolf; Members: Nolan Cauthen, Steve Giorgi, Jim Weikum)

11:20 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.                Subgroup 3: Economic Development and Digital Inclusion—Work plan, challenges, deliverables (Chair: Bernadine Joselyn; Members: Dale Cook and Micah Myers)

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.                Other Business/April Meeting Plans/Wrap Up

MN Broadband Task Force Notes Feb 2020 at Lake o’Lakes: precision ag, 5G and fixed wireless

Today the MN Broadband Task Force met at Land o’Lakes in Arden Hills. We got a tour of their tasting facilities, more importantly we heard about the innovations they have been working on for precision ag. It’s amazing the info they can get via apps, drones, mapping and some real world engagement. There’s an app that a farmer can use to track his crop in the field. If he sees an anomaly, he can stop, scan the produce and send back to the folks mixing the crop nutrients and on the fly treatment for sections of the crops can change based on need. Well I say in real time but it seems that’s only possible where broadband is sufficient and we learned that a drone image of a crop can be 5 GB, which can take almost 4 hours to upload with a 3Mbps connection. Suddenly Land o’Lakes’ interest in rural broadband is clear.

We also learned about 5G and fixed wireless. The important thing to learn about 5G – is that not all flavors are created equal. Today we learned about 5G+ (mmWave), 5G (Sub 6 GHZ)  and 5G evolution (akin to LTE). There are difference between the three. 5G (mmWave) is the top of the line option for urban areas. It’s what we read about when the Superbowl came to town. And they said it will not be coming to rural areas because the reach of 5G/mmWave is 250 meters from the tower.

With fixed wireless, there’s licensed and unlicensed. Unlicensed wireless may experience interference from nearly networks and is obliged to try not to interfere with other networks. Again there’s a range of speeds and distances the network can travel without degradation.

You can see the meeting video or read more complete notes below. The audio may not be great but to be fair, it wasn’t great in the room either.

Approved minutes from last month (above)…

The Task Force did send a message to the Governor supporting the $30 million in surplus funding for broadband grants. Commissioner Grove was happy. The Governor has received the message.


Amanda Neely on Ag Tech Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at Land o’Lakes

Digital Transformation

  • Data collection & aggregation
  • Form productivity
  • Digital transformation
  • Insights and efficiencies

Built proprietary precision ag tools

  • Using data to become more predictable requires technology
  • Use satellite imagery to get maps and conditions to the farmer
  • Add in chemistry to predict and text changes
  • App is on the phone – but can scan plant to get tested remotely
  • To get precise about precision ag is having the broadband to pinpoint exact locations in the field

Question: do you look at soil health?
Yes – we often to test in April before planting. And we have soil maps

We need farmers to read online, buy online and interact online. That requires broadband. They need way more than 25/3 to interact!

We have a host of partners but the key is being able to communicate with each. And we are trying to smooth adoption for farmer by streamlining as much as we can. TO get the farmer the info they need (spatial data) that need a lot of broadband.

Drone pictures for precision ag can be 5 gigabytes. How long would that take to upload? Almost 4 hours at 3 Mbps. https://downloadtimecalculator.com/Upload-Time-Calculator.html

Question: How is US doing compared to others
Europe is pretty advanced due to regulations. Outside of Europe, we are far ahead.

Andy Sackreiter AT&T on 5G

They are marketing 3 flavors of 5G

  • We will never see a 5G+ mmWave network in rural areas; it’s more like a hotspot application because the 5G+ travels 300-500 feet.
  • 5G (Sub 6 GHZ)  – uses the same infrastructure as 4G. It may have decent deployment in MN – will make announcements in June.
  • 5G evolution (advanced LTE) – eventually it may replace LTE

Question: Do all of 5Gs meet standard of 5G?
Not 5G evolution

Question: Are these all symmetrical?
Not in the field.

AT&T enables massive IoT with Low Power WAN – works well with small data transactions (like turning a sprinkler off and on) the battery is long lasting.

Localizing Cellular Connectivity – seems to act like a local proxy cache

How long will it take to get 5g Sub 6 GHZ to all of MN?
It may take a few years to get Minnesota covered with 5G Sub 6 GHZ.

How can we smooth the path to 5G Sub 6 GHZ deployment?
Les red tape is helpful?

Fiber deployments in rural areas can be hard for smaller providers with the red tape required.

Ben Wiechman Arvig on fixed wireless

Fiber going to a tower or building

Signal strength is like volume in a crowded room

Communication (Spectral) Efficienty is like conversation at a distance

Channel width is lanes of a highway – AND Simplified: 75Mbps using a single 20 MHz channel

Unlicensed – means you put up with interference and try not to interfere with others

Licensed – mean you have exclusive use of a channel

  • 900 MHz – 1-3 miles
  • 2.4 GHz – 5-7 miles 50/10 Mbps
  • CBRS 3-5 miles 25/3ish Mbps (up to 100/20 with additional channels
  • mmWave – 250 meters 500/500Mbps
  • satellite – serve of last resort because the latency is too slow for any interaction – voice, gaming, tech support…

Ag Implications

  • IoT sensors likely to be 4G-5G
  • FarmBeats (Microsofter TVWS) – challenges with connectivity to the farm and distribution on the farm
  • Portable connectivity makes sense – wind farms, drilling rigs, mobile grain fryers

The channel with 2.4 GHz unlicensed is getting close enough to reach customers but far enough to decrease interference. A typical customer base might be 150 customers per tower but you really need fiber backhaul to meet their needs. You need 50 customers per tower to break even in 3 years.