Yesterday Brent Legg from Connected Nation gave a presentation to the Minnesota Commerce and Labor Committee Telecom Regulation and Infrastructure Division. (You can download audio of the meeting.) As you may recall, Connect Minnesota, a subsidiary of Connected Nation, received almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Minnesota from the NTIA as part of the ARRA broadband funding. Brent was kind enough to share his presentation with me. It’s a sneak preview of sorts since they will be doing a more formal launch of their finding in two weeks. (The details aren’t set, I’ll post them when I get them, but it sounds like a webinar during the week of May 17.)
The presentation outlines the project objectives:
- To further develop strong working relationships with all of Minnesota’s broadband providers and support an environment of public/private collaboration on broadband issues among all stakeholders
- To update and improve Minnesota’s detailed maps of broadband coverage and launch a new robust, more user-friendly interactive map
- To utilize the resulting maps to accurately pinpoint any remaining gaps in broadband availability
- To assess the level of connectivity currently provided to Minnesota’s “community anchor institutions” (i.e., schools, libraries, hospitals, etc.)
- To assess broadband use among Minnesota’s businesses and residents, and identify barriers to broadband adoption, and
- To support the work of the Minnesota Broadband Task Force’s successor as needed
It sounds as if they have had success getting data from providers. Their most recent maps include data from 100 out of 120 providers. More data is expected from 18 more providers; two providers have elected not to participate in the mapping.
Spoiler alert – here are their key findings:
- 95.55% of Minnesota households have access to broadband service of at least 768 kbps downstream
- 4.45% of Minnesota households are unserved, representing approximately 93,000 unserved households
They have created a tool (BroadbandStat) that will allow end user to perform interactive searches, such as search for and identify broadband service at a specific address, including available speeds and service providers. (You can learn more about the functionality of BroadbandStat on slide 11.)
Connect Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Commerce are working together on the mapping. As part of the project award, Connect Minnesota was required to have a state partner; their partner is the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce is establishing a project steering committee to work directly with Connect Minnesota. Getting the State and Connect Minnesota working together is great – some of my favorite maps coming out of the initial efforts were the maps created when DEED and Connect Minnesota seemed to work together to create maps for the Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force meeting in March 2009.
I’m looking forward to learning more at the formal/public launch.