Minnesota Broadband Task Force Special Meeting

It was tougher to take notes at today’s meeting than it has been at previous Task Force meetings – especially when they discussed the shovel-ready projects because there was a lot of back and forth dialog and I’m a blogger not a stenographer. I’m going to include all of my notes – but I wanted to add a couple of notes.

First – I didn’t take great notes on the Broadband Mapping presentation because it was remarkably similar to the sneak preview I wrote about on Thursday. I just added notes and questions that were new.

Second – I just read an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Broadband task force drops plan to get stimulus funds). I think the tone of the article is misleading. I don’t think the Task Force dropped the list of projects so much as they decided that realistically they couldn’t be the ones to decide which projects should be funded – and if they handed over a list of projects that the powers that be would assume that the Task Force had made some qualitative decisions to create the list.

They couldn’t decide which projects should be funded because (1) they don’t know the rules for funding yet because Congress is still creating rules and (2) they don’t have the time to delve into these projects and create a recommendation for the future of broadband in Minnesota, which is their primary goal. So instead of providing a list, it sounded to me at if the Task Force decided to provide benchmarks or guidelines for Legislators to decide which projects to fund after they gather their own list of potential projects.

Third, the Star Tribune article did pick up on the tension in the room between potentially opposing views on how and where to increase broadband in Minnesota. I think we saw a touch of this last month – I think we’re going to see a lot more as the group moves forward to make recommendations on how and where to increase broadband in Minnesota.

On with the meeting notes… Continue reading

Connect Minnesota – the Broadband Maps are Here

The broadband maps of Minnesota have been unveiled! This afternoon I got a sneak preview of the maps from the folks at Connection Nation (CN) – specifically from Brent Legg, Wes Kerr and Chip Spann. Connected Nation has been hired by the State to map access to broadband across Minnesota. The maps are being created to help the Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force make recommendations to the Legislature regarding a vision for broadband access in Minnesota.

I have a brief video clip from our meeting; I tried to catch the introductory key points. (I’m hoping to get the presentation they gave too and will post it when I can.)

According to the data collected (mostly from providers) 92 percent of the state is covered with broadband – as defined by greater than 768 Kbps download speeds. The 8 percent that is not covered comes to about 150,000 households or 418,000 people. Although participation by providers was not mandated by the State, CN heard from 98 providers of the estimated 225 providers in Minnesota, however it sounds as if they had heard from the largest providers. That being said they are working to get more data. Continue reading