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.

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.

EVENT Feb 18: MN Broadband Task Force Agenda

The agenda is out for next week’s Task Force meeting. New location:

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
February 18, 2020
Land O’Lakes
Room A1-107
4001 Lexington Avenue North
Arden Hills, MN 55164-0101  (directions)


  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. — Welcome, Introductions, Approval of Minutes and Public Comment
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. — Land O’Lakes Tour (Test Kitchen and R&D Lab) Culinary Center w/Samantha Kelly R&D Lab w/Joana Montenegro
  • 10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.  — Overview of Ag Tech Uses by Land O’Lakes Amanda Neely, Ag Tech Marketing & Strategic Partnerships Vamsi Venigalla, Product Manager, TruTerra Insights Engine
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. — Overview of 5G Andy Sackreiter, Director, Radio Access Network, AT&T
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  — Lunch Pete Kappelman, SVP, Member and Government Relations
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.  — Overview of Fixed Wireless Ben Wiechman, Director of Network Strategy and Engineering, Arvig
  • 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.  — Update from Subgroups
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.                     Other Business/March Meeting Plans/Wrap Up


MN Broadband Task Force Jan 2020: supporting a $30 million request from Legislature

The full notes and video are below. I think a highlight from the meet was the presentation from the Minnesota Broadband Coalition. They have asked the Task Force to send a letter to the Legislature supporting their recommendation for $30 million from the supplemental budget for more grants.

Also the Task Force formed three subgroups:

  • MN Model
  • Barrier to Technology
  • Economic Development and Digital Inclusion

Continue reading

EVENT ALERT Jan 24: MN Broadband Task Force agenda

The agenda is out for Friday’s Task Force meeting. I plan to attend and I will livestream

January 24
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
James J. Hill Conference Room
332 Minnesota Street, Suite E-200
St. Paul, MN 55101-1351
Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Introductions and Public Comment
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.  Review of Goals
  • 10:40 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Review of Goal Categorization and Sub-Committee Assignments
  • 11:10 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. Future Meetings, Venues, and Guest Speakers
  • 11:40 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. Initial Sub-Committee Meeting (James J. Hill, Lakes and St. Croix Conference Rooms)
  • 12:10 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. Lunch
  • 1:10 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Presentation by the MN Rural Broadband Coalition
  • 1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Discussion on a Letter to the Governor and Legislature
  • 1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Other Business


Waseca’s Theresa Sunde appointed to Minnesota Governor’s Broadband Task Force

Fun to see a community excited about a broadband appointment. Waseca County News reports

Mediacom Senior Manager and Waseca resident Theresa Sunde has been appointed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan to serve a four-year term on the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

The purpose of the Task Force is to advise the executive and legislative branches on policies to help ensure every Minnesotan has access to high-speed broadband.

Sunde is the one member of the 14-person Task Force whose professional career has been in the cable industry. She is a senior manager for Mediacom, a company that offers Gigabit internet speeds to residents and businesses in more than 180 small and mid-sized communities throughout Minnesota.

Sunde has worked in the cable telecommunications industry for 23 years. She is responsible for government relations in Minnesota and three other states where Mediacom offers advanced broadband services.

New MN Broadband Task Force is announced by Gov Walz & Lt Gov Flanagan

Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan today announced the following appointments to the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. The task force will put forward policies to help ensure every Minnesotan has access to high-speed broadband, no matter their zip code. Term is effective: October 14, 2019 and expires in April 2, 2023. I have added affiliation where I could find it:

Tewodros Bekele – Lake Elmo, MN
Land O’Lakes – SVP and CTO (I assume)

Nolan Cauthen – Crystal, MN
CenturyLink – Broadband Tech (I assume)

Dale Cook – Minneapolis, MN
Live to Learn, Aspen Institute Fellow (I’m thnking)

Steve Fenske – Buffalo, MN
Minnesota Association of Townships – Attorney

Steve Giorgi – Virginia, MN
RAMS – Executive director(I assume)

Shannon Heim – Minneapolis, MN
Moss & Barnett, P.A.

Marc Johnson – Mora, MN

Bernadine Joselyn – Grand Rapids, MN
Blandin Foundation

Brian Krambeer – Rushford, MN
MI Energy – CIO

Micah Myers – Watkins, MN
GraNet (I’m thinking)

Theresa Sunde – Waseca, MN

James Weikum – Biwabik, MN
Arrowhead Library System – Executive Director

Paul Weirtz – Bayport, MN
AT&T – President of AT&T MN

David Wolf – Brandon, MN
Gardonville Cooperative Telephone – CEO (I assume)

Deadline to apply for MN Broadband Task Force in June 5

I wrote about this earlier but wanted to nudge people to apply! I’m borrowing from the announcement from the Office of Broadband Development

On March 29, 2019, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 19-10 continuing the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. According to the language of the Executive Order, “A multi-stakeholder body should continue to advise the executive and legislative branches on broadband policy, including strategies for successfully achieving the state broadband goals, comprehensive assessment of digital inclusion issues and gaps, and strategies for unlocking the benefits of universal access to broadband for all communities in Minnesota.” The Task Force will consist of 15 members, with the Governor appointing one member to serve as chair. The Task Force is charged with creating an annual report to be issued by December 31 each year. The report will address areas such as: the needs, barriers, issues and goals for broadband access; the needs and use of broadband in various sectors; digital inclusion definitions and the benefits, needs and strategies for addressing identified gaps; availability and accessibility for unserved and underserved populations; advances in broadband technology; opportunities to coordinate with other levels of government; and continued review of the adequacy and appropriateness of the broadband goals.

Information on how to apply to serve on Governor Walz’s Task Force on Broadband is available on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Open Positions site.

This new Task Force will build on the work of former Governor Dayton’s Task Force on Broadband. Several initiatives of that task force ultimately ended up being adopted in law, including the creation of an Office of Broadband Development, the establishment of a Border to Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program, and the goals that all homes and businesses have access to broadband service of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload by 2022 and that all homes and businesses have access to at least one provider offering service of at least 100Mbps download/20Mbps upload by 2026. For reference, the meeting minutes and agendas and the annual reports from the last few years of Governor Dayton’s Task Force on Broadband are posted below.