Comparison of States’ broadband speed goals and investments

The State Broadband Leaders Network (SBLN) has created an interactive map of broadband plans and initiatives by state. It’s similar to the work recently gather by the Pew’s State Broadband Policy Explorer.  Pew’s work would be helpful if you wanted to take a deep dive into a state’s (or a few states) broadband policy. It’s also well organized if you want to compare specific policies – like you has statewide policy or activity on pole attachments.

SBLN has a clickable map where you can get a high level look at what’s happening in each state. Over the weekend, I took a deeper dive into that info to come up with a quick comparison what states are doing in terms of speed goals and committed funding. Unfortunately, it’s not an apples to apples comparison. Some states have been investing for years. Some state of speed goals where others don’t have goals but at least they have defined broadband. Some states set goals last year, some set them a few years ago. The age of those goals is showing.

The other issue is that the information is often buried in a state website. I did a comparison of state initiatives back in 2016 so I knew that would be an issue. I decided to make this a quicker job so there’s a larger margin of error but there are also resources (State Broadband Leaders Network (SBLN) and State Broadband Policy Explorer) to get more info now. But for a high level look this version is easy to take in.

From a very high level, I think the FCC and Minnesota have set the bar. You’ll see a lot of goals of 25/3 Mbps, which is the FCC standard and Minnesota’s 2022 state goal. You’ll see a bunch of states with question marks; those are states where I didn’t see a lot of state level activity. And there were a few standouts  for speed:

  • Washington 150/150 by 2028
  • Hawaii Gig by 2018
  • Iowa 100/100
  • Vermont 100/100 by 2024

And for funding:

  • California $645 million
  • Illinois $400 million
  • Indiana $100 million
  • New York $500 million

Minnesota has been a leader in the field. The “Minnesota Model” has been touted for over a year now and I saw it mentioned in a few footnotes in other states. But to continue to be a leader, it may be time to freshen up the goals and the commitment.

Here’s the comparison:

State Goals/Investment
Alabama 10/1
Alaska ?
Arizona Fund: $3 M
Arkansas Speed: 25/3

Fund: $25 M

California Speed: 10/1 by 2022

Fund: $645 M

Colorado Speed: 25/3

Fund: $20 M since 2016

Connecticut ?
Delaware ?
Florida ?
Georgia Speed: 25/3
Hawaii Speed: Gig by 2018

Fund: $20 M

Idaho ?
Illinois Speed: 100/20 by 2028

Fund: $400 M

Indiana Speed: 100/10

Fund: $100 M

Iowa Speed: 100/100

Fund: $5 M

Kansas ?
Kentucky ?
Louisiana Speed: 100/100 by 2029
Maine Speed: 25/3

Fund: $13 M

Maryland Fund: $10 M
Massachusetts Speed: 25/3

Fund: $40 M

Michigan Speed: Gig by 2026

Fund: $20 M

Minnesota Speed: 100/20 by 2026

Fund: $40 M

Mississippi ?
Missouri Speed: 25/3

Fund: $5

Montana Fund: match for e-rate
Nebraska Speed: 10/1

Fund: USF for hospitals

Nevada Fund: $2 M for schools
New Hampshire ?
New Jersey ?
New Mexico Speed: 4/1 – but 100 Mpbs for business
New York Speed: 25/3 in remote areas

Fund: $500 M

North Carolina Speed: 25/3

Fund: $10 M

North Dakota ?
Ohio ?
Oklahoma ?
Oregon ?
Pennsylvania Speed: 25/3
Rhode Island Fund: $15 M e-rate match
South Carolina ?
South Dakota Speed: 25/3 by 2022 and to be #1 in the nation
Tennessee Speed: 25/3

Fund: $20 M in 2020

Texas Speed: 25/3
Utah ?
Vermont Speed: 100/100 by 2024

Fund: $20 M

Virginia Speed: 25/3 by 2022

Fund: $19 M

Washington Speed: 150/150 by 2028

Fund: $20 M in 2019

West Virginia Speed: 25/3

Fund: $1.5 M

Wisconsin Speed: 25/3

Fund: $48 M

Wyoming Speed: 25/3 residential Gig/100 Mbps business

Fund: $10 M


Average household data consumption up 27 percent from 2018 to 2019

I’m going to borrow from Doug Dawson’s take on OpenVault’s Broadband Industry Report for 4Q 2019; it tracks the way that the US consumes data.

As usual, the OpenVault statistics are a wake-up cry for the industry. The most important finding is that the average monthly data consumed by households grow by 27% from 2018 to 2019, and in the fourth quarter of 2019 the average home used 344 gigabytes of data, up from 275 gigabytes a year earlier. Note that consumption is a combination of download and upload usage – with most consumption being downloaded.

For the first time, the company compared homes with unlimited data plans to those that have plans with data caps. They reported that homes with no data caps used 353 gigabytes per month while homes with data caps used 337 gigabytes per month. That statistic would suggest that homes with data caps try to curb their usage to avoid overage charges.

Interestingly, median usage was significantly different than average usage. Median means the same as midpoint, and the median data usage was 191 gigabytes per month, meaning half of US homes used more than that and half used less. In looking at their numbers, I have to suppose that the median is a lot less than average due to the many homes using slow DSL that can’t consume a lot of broadband.

Yesterday at the MN Broadband Task Force Meeting, they mentioned that a single precision crop image from a drone could be 5 gigabytes. I wondered how long that would take to upload. So I found an upload tool calculator. At 25Mbps it would take 1 day, 8 hours, 49 minutes and 57 seconds to download 344 gigabytes. It would take 8 hours, 12 minutes and 29 seconds with 100Mbps.

Why don’t they have broadband? It depends how you ask.

NDIA took an interesting look at why people don’t have broadband. For years the answer was always a “lack of interest” followed by cost. But the NDIA tried a new tactic where they allowed people to choose more than one answer and they found that more people cited cost…

A close analysis of the debate leads to two conclusions:

There are multiple reasons for non-adoption: Research spanning the past decade that investigates non-broadband subscribers finds that non-adopters cite more than one reason behind their choice. In 2010, 2015, and 2019, national survey data shows that, when offered the chance to cite more than one reason for not subscribing to broadband at home, people generally cite 2 or 3 reasons.

Cost is the chief reason for not having broadband: Research that rests on the notion that reasons for non-adoption are multiple uniformly finds that cost is the most important reason that people do not have broadband. At least half of non-broadband subscribers cite cost (either monthly fee or access devices) as a reason they do not subscribe when offered multiple choices, with a plurality citing cost in follow-up questions about the most important reason for non-adoption.

The reason it matters, as the report points out, is that combating disinterest and affordability are different fights. Education and experience helps build an interest; lower costs (or higher income) build affordability.

These aren’t mutually exclusive causes or fights but it does impact how you address them. And it makes a huge difference from a policy perspective. Because we’re no longer asking legislators to provide an unwanted service, we’re asking them to close a gap.

One of the weird non-broadband things I do is work with people experiencing homelessness. When asked if they’d like to have a home, some people will say no. But a few questions later you realize they do want a home they just don’t want to take space from someone they think is more deserving. They don’t think about how having a home might make education, employment and healthcare easier for them, cost the community less and lead them to greater personal and societal productivity. The answer is part education and part affordability.

In many ways broadband is similar. When you have to decide between broadband or dinner, or rent or new shoes for your kids, broadband is an easy line item to cut. But if you know how broadband can help you make money, finish a degree (or gain an employable skill), access remote healthcare, or just shop smarter – it’s easier to cut. But it takes time and/or training to recoup those costs and more forward to again, becoming more personally and societally productive.

For folks in the digital equity frontlines this finding isn’t shocking. But understanding how and why people say they don’t want broadband is helpful in knowing how to approach it in theory, practice and policy.

Affordable internet is increasing in most areas but not Minnesota

Cord Cutters new reports that most areas saw an increase in affordable broadband but Minnesota did not…

Broadband Now has released their quarterly State of Broadband in America report with new insights about trends in broadband across the country.

In the Q4 report for 2019, Broadband Now found an increase in the availability of affordable broadband access. While trends in speed didn’t change much from last quarter, the report does show increased access to basic level broadband.

Across the country, there was an overall increase in the availability of broadband access for $60/month or less. Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi showed the largest increases. Only four states showing a decrease in affordable access: Wyoming, Oregon, Minnesota, and Idaho.

Mayo Clinic Study finds Telehealth sharply reduces risk of death within 30 days

mHealth Intelligence reports…

Two rural hospitals using an asynchronous telehealth platform for eConsults with infectious disease experts saw a sharp reduction in risk of death within 30 days, as well as a decreased risk of rehospitalization.

In a 2018 study conducted by The Mayo Clinic at two hospitals within its network, the connected health platform helped staff at these hospitals collaborate with ID specialists at Mayo’s Rochester hospital on care management for some 100 patients. Through the eConsult platform, those experts were able to recommend interventions like antibiotic type change, antibiotic duration change, antibiotic de-escalation, additional lab testing and consults with other specialists.

“We believe that this study demonstrates the utility of an asynchronous approach to infectious diseases care for patients hospitalized at locations without in-person ID specialists,” Aaron J. Tande, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at the Mayo Clinic and the study’s lead author, told Healio. “This approach allows a more in-depth evaluation of a patient than a typical ‘curbside’ phone call but avoids the complexity of synchronous/video telehealth.”

“This is a potential option for small hospitals that are on the same electronic record as larger hospitals that have infectious diseases specialists,” he added. “We feel that the future of ID telemedicine should include a variety of options individualized to the complexity and needs of each individual patient and capabilities of each health care facility.”

The study, conducted at the Mayo Clinic’s Austin Hospital and Albert Lea Hospital in southeastern Minnesota, saw a 70 percent reduced risk of death within 30 days and a trend toward decreased readmission within 30 days. And while it showed an increase in length of stay, Tande and his colleagues noted that the eConsults were conducted a few days into the hospitalization, and that an earlier consult would likely reduce the length of stay.


MN Broadband County profiles including comparative map and PDFs

The snow is coming to most of us in Minnesota today. Good news though – I have something fun for you to check out online. Remember the 2019 County Broadband Profiles I did September? Blandin Foundation took that information and made is prettier and more accessible and each profile is now available in a PDF format, making it easier to print out and share with the Minnesota Broadband County Profiles.

I love the map because it does a nice job showing of which areas are on track to meet 2026 broadband speed goals (in green) and which ones aren’t (in red). The intention is that local communities and policymakers can use this information to access local and statewide need. Maybe it’s something you can share with your community and/or policymakers. They’re probably sitting at a desk watching for snow today too.

Beyond telemedicine – there’s demand and some solutions for tele-caring

I just finished reading a report on how rural areas can be slower to adopt broadband because the population can be older, have less education and lower incomes. My grandpa used to say – first you gotta wanna – as in, you can learn anything but first you gotta wanna.

That framed my read of the next report by the Rural Health Information Hub on Informal Caregiving and Technology in Rural America. In short, the report talks about how using technology can make your life easier if you are a caregiver – especially if you are an unpaid caregiver with a full time job and maybe some kids. In other words, if you’re caring for a parent or other loved one.

They point out three ways that technology can help:

  • “An ‘Intelligent Family Care Assistant’ to help with day-to-day caregiving by helping to coordinate the family’s tasks in the context of the family’s other activities.”
  • “‘Wearable technologies’ — devices worn on or placed in the body, with sensors and/or human interfaces — to help monitor a person’s health and overall condition.”
  • “Technologies that provide better connections between family caregivers and health professionals, enabling them to work more effectively as a team in providing care.”

I suspect most readers will grasp the advantages of those tools without help. And if you want another great use of technology, you can look back on my article on Virtual Realty in Cannon Falls.)

There are several hiccups in the deployment. Lack of broadband is one – but imagine using these tele-caring applications to reach a demographic that was slow to get broadband before. We’re building demand.

Lack of skill is another. I’ve done digital literacy training for decades. Learning to use a computer for the first time when you’re older is hard. It’s an entirely next experience – it would be like me trying to use a sewing machine or oven! Also you don’t hear or see as well as certain ages and learning gets slower. BUT the incentive is high to stay in your own home to make life easier for you kids or other loved ones caring for you. We’re building demand and increasing local skills.

There are some policy constraints too. The report outlines the NACRHHS Recommendations on Supportive Services and Caregiving:

  1. “The Committee recommends the Secretary create a comprehensive resource on the aging and long-term services and supports available to older adults in rural areas.”
  2. “The Committee recommends the Secretary continue to expand flexibility in Medicare telehealth billing and provide a comprehensive resource of telehealth offerings in rural areas.”
  3. “The Committee recommends the Secretary ensure the promotion and encouragement of age-friendly concepts within rural health grant programs.”
  4. “The Committee recommends the Secretary explore the entry of Medicare Advantage Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans into rural areas, identify potential barriers, and work with states to adopt policies that encourage or expand the reach of these plans to rural beneficiaries.”

There’s work to be done but tele-caring is a reward that most families would (or will eventually) appreciate. The report does a nice job with statistics and a few stories.