What is the Broadband Line Extension Program in Minnesota?

Sharing information from the Office of Broadband Development…

Line Extension Connection

What is the Minnesota Broadband Line Extension Connection?

The Line Extension Connection program goal is to connect residents and businesses that lack access to broadband internet service to service providers, and then assist in the expense of extending broadband to those locations.

How the Program Works

Residential and business locations that are unserved (lack access to speeds of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload) can apply by entering their information into the Line Extension Connection portal.* This will initiate their interest in receiving broadband internet service and make their location available for consideration.

By submitting your address into the Line Extension Connection portal, internet service providers will have the opportunity to review the location and submit a bid based on the cost to bring service to your location.

The Office of Broadband Development will evaluate these bids and required provider documentation and make awards to the providers whose bid proposes the lowest cost to the State for extension of the service.

*Submitting location information into the Line Extension Connection portal does not guarantee extension of service.

*If a resident or business cannot access the online portal, the Office of Broadband Development can assist in this process. Please call 651-259-7610.

Who Can Apply

Locations that currently lack broadband service or have actual broadband speeds of less than 25/3Mbps.

Funding

The Minnesota Broadband Line Extension Connection Program has been allocated $15 million in total funding.

Limits per line extension are set by Minnesota law. These limits are:

  • A per line extension amount cannot exceed $25,000.
  • The Office of Broadband Development must ensure the bid is a cost-effective use of state funds.

Timeline

The Minnesota Broadband Line Extension Connection online portal is accepting applications.

The bidding and review processes must take place before awards can be made. Once made, projects must be completed within 12 months of the contract date.

  • At least every six months, OBD will provide Internet Service Providers the listing of addresses requesting service
  • Service providers will have 10 days to notify OBD of service availability at those locations
  • Service Providers have 60 days to submit bids on locations they would like to extend service to
  • OBD will evaluate all bids within 60 days and select the provider whose bid requests the lowest amount of financial support from the state.

More information is available on our website. Need help applying or need to request a paper form? Call 651-259-7610 or email deed.broadband@state.mn.us.

Advice from a MN Broadband Task Force Meber: Look at the MN LIne

The Ely Echo posts a letter to the editor from a MN Broadband Task Force member…

If I were to ask 100 people across the Iron Range if they have heard of the Broadband Line Connection Extension Program, I would bet my next Social Security check that less than 10% would say yes.  Anyone want that bet?  One of the few bills to pass in the 2022 legislative session was a bill with an allocation of $15 million dollars to fund a program that would help people in more remote locations get connected to broadband. I know many people in rural communities that are aware that there is fiber broadband located in the ditch across from their home, yet to connect to that fiber the provider who owns the fiber wants the homeowner to pay the entire cost of trenching the fiber to their premise. Depending on the length of your driveway, and geographic barriers like ledge rock or wetlands, the cost is usually prohibitive, so life goes on with lousy internet or using your cell service for a connection.

Well as a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, and the MN Rural Broadband Coalition, I am pleased to share with you some simple steps to hopefully get you connected to high speed, quality broadband at reasonable pricing. This new program requires that you as a homeowner fill out an online application  (available at this address or for online subscribers click on this link) https://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/extension/#1  or you can submit a written request to the MN Office of Broadband 332 Minnesota Street Suite E200  St Paul, MN 5510; or you can call the OBD at 651-259-7610 and they will fill out the request over the phone.  You have to let them know that you do not have a WIRELINE broadband or internet provider to your home, and you wish to be connected. That is really all you have to do.

Signed,,,

Steve Giorgi

Mt. Iron, MN

Recap on MN investments in broadband from Benton

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has compiled a nice recap of what’s happening in Minnesota in terns of broadband investment…

Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program is the state’s financial tool to address the primary cause for the lack of broadband in unserved areas: high costs and lower population densities resulted in unsustainable business plans and thus broadband installations are not feasible. This month, Minnesota announced new grants that represent a significant acceleration of the Border-to-Border Program: previously, the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Office of Broadband Development had provided nearly $130 million in Border-to-Border grants—matched with over $180 million in private and local matching funds—to connect more than 57,000 homes and businesses around Minnesota to high-speed internet since the program’s inception in 2014.

In May 2022, Minnesota enacted HF3420, which included $210 million for broadband resources:

  • $25 million in fiscal year (FY) 2023 and $25 million in FY 2024 in general fund spending directed to the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program, which provides 50% matching funds for broadband development costs for a qualifying project in unserved and underserved areas;
  • $60.703 million directed from the state’s share of the federal Capital Projects Fund authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act to be used for broadband grants under the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program, with the remaining $50 million reserved for the Walz administration to spend on any other eligible expenditure within the program’s guidelines, including digital inclusion efforts;
  • All of the state’s appropriation of at least $100 million directed from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, to be used for broadband infrastructure deployment under the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program;
  • A set aside of $10 million from the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program funding and $30 million from the state’s BEAD grant share for the Low-Density Pilot Program to provide broadband service in areas of the state where a 50 percent match formula is not adequate to make a business case for broadband infrastructure deployment and allows up to 75 percent of the total project cost to be covered by Border-to-Border broadband grant funds;
  • A set aside of $15 million for a new Broadband Line Extension Program, which would fund smaller-scale broadband line extensions to individual homes and businesses that still lack access; and
  • A set aside of $15 million from the state’s BEAD grant share for comprehensive statewide broadband mapping efforts.

You can now apply for Minnesota Broadband Line Extension Funding

The Office of Broadband website now includes access to apply for the line extension connection program. There’s a little background…

In the 2022 Legislative Session, the Office of Broadband Development (OBD) was directed to create a new program, the Broadband Line Extension Connection Program. The purpose of the program is to award grants for the extension of existing broadband infrastructure to unserved locations. An unserved location is a location that does not have a wired broadband service of at least 25Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.

Instructions…

People can report to OBD that a wired broadband service is unavailable at their residence or business by entering information on the online application below or by calling 651-259-7610 and requesting a paper application or by talking to someone at OBD who will complete the application on their behalf.

And what happens next…

Every six months, OBD will send the list of addresses to each broadband provider offering service in Minnesota. Providers then have ten days to notify OBD that they can provide service at any of the addresses on the list. OBD will then contact those people to let them know the name of the broadband provider that can offer them service and any discounted pricing plans available.

For those addresses that are not served by a provider or in an area that will be built with an already awarded Border-to-Border Broadband grant project, OBD will hold a 60-day reverse auction where broadband service providers can bid to extend service to one or more of the addresses on the list. In their bid, providers will identify the grant amount requested to extend the broadband service. Within 60 days of the auction closing, OBD will select the bids that request the least amount of financial support from the state and that are a cost-effective expenditure of state resources. OBD will then enter into line extension agreements with each winning bidder. Winning bidders will have one year from the date the contract is signed to complete the broadband line extension. The winning bidder must build broadband service that offers speeds of at least 100Mbps download and 100Mbps upload.