Minnesota Broadband Task Force: Planning for 2016 & visits from legislators

The big news of the day was the release of the latest Minnesota Broadband Task Force report. They have recommended $100 million for broadband funding and speed goals of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up by 2022 and 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up by 2026.

Most of the meeting was spent making plans for 2016. The groups has segmented into three subgroups:

  • Affordability.
  • Emerging technology and issues (such as cyber security)
  • Accessibility

At the end of the meeting they heard from Senator Schmit, Representative Kresha and Representative Johnson. All are broadband proponents. Schmit is focused on funding the fund – maximizing the amount spent on broadband grants to $100 million. Kresha is interested in spending more money than last year (he has already proposed $35 million) but is really focused on telecom regulations. Johnson seemed surprised at the low speed recommendations. He also supports funding for broadband and looking at how to use state funding to leverage federal (CAF 2) funding.

Here are the full notes: Continue reading

Minnesota Broadband Task Force report is out: recommending 25/3 MB speeds and $200 million (over 2 years)

I am in a Minnesota Broadband Task Force meeting as I post this but I wanted to get the latest report out…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Releases Annual Report

Report contains policy recommendations,
including $200 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program and updated speed goals

The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband released its 2016 Annual Report today, which includes recommendations for Governor Dayton, the legislature, and other policy makers to consider in the 2016 Legislative Session.

The recommendations outlined in the report are aimed at ensuring every Minnesotan has access to broadband, and include $200 million in funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grand Development Program and an update to the state’s outdated speed goals.

“The goal of the task force is that every home and business, border-to-border, should have access to high-speed broadband,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. “Expanding broadband allows all businesses to compete in today’s global economy no matter where they are located in Minnesota, expands educational opportunities, and helps people stay in touch with health care providers to receive care and monitor their health conditions. These recommendations will move our state closer to our goal.”

The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, created by the Legislature in 2014 and initially funded at $20 million, provides funding to build the state’s broadband infrastructure and promote broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of the state. The grants provide up to a dollar-for-dollar match on funds, not to exceed $5 million for any one project, and are distributed to qualified entities.
Minnesota’s universal broadband access and speed goals, originally established in 2010, specified that by no later than 2015, “all state residents and businesses have access to high-speed broadband that provides minimum download speeds of ten to 20 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of five to ten megabits per second.” As of February 2015, 91.45 percent of Minnesota households had broadband access available at a speed of at least 10 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload, while 80.16 percent of rural Minnesota households had a broadband connection that meets these speeds*.

The task force’s new proposal would update the state’s speed goals to specify that all businesses and homes should have access to high-speed broadband services at a download speed of at least 25 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of at least 3 megabits per second by 2022. These speeds are in alignment with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) definition of high-speed broadband.

Furthermore, the report recommends that by 2026, it is a state goal that all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.

Additional policy recommendations include:
• Increase telecommunications aid for schools and libraries
• Expand existing sales tax exemption for telecommunications equipment
• Reform regulations of Minnesota’s telecommunications industry
• Review existing permitting criteria to see where there might be opportunities for efficiencies
• Create an Office of Broadband operating fund to promote broadband adoption and use

The full report can be found here.
* These figures include broadband service provided by wired, fixed wireless and wireless technologies, as Minnesota statutes did not specify a technology.

Rock County Commissioner Jody Reisch joins the Minnesota Broadband Task Force

According to the Worthington Daily Globe

Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday announced the appointment of Jody Reisch, Luverne, to the Minnesota Broadband Task Force. Reisch currently serves on the Rock County Board of Commissioners.

His term on the broadband task force begins Tuesday and will remain in effect until Jan. 7, 2019. Reisch will replace Angela Dickison, of Duluth, on the task force.


Minnesota Broadband Task Force will recommend $200 million in funding and set new speed goal

Yesterday the Minnesota Broadband Task Force met to finalize their report and recommendations to the Governor. The recommendations are similar to last year. The two hot topics were – funding and speeds. They are recommending $200 million over  two years for broadband funding (same as last year) and the speed goal is:

Universal access and high speed goal: It is a state goal that as soon as possible, but no later than 2022, all Minnesota businesses, homes and institutions, including public schools, colleges and universities, have access to high-speed broadband that provides minimum download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and minimum upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. Also by 2026 all Minnesota businesses, homes and institutions will have access to at least one provider of broadband with speeds of at least 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.

They worked through a draft that had been compiled/by staff. I will include a copy of the draft they used (so it’s not final – but a penultimate draft) and copy of the handouts from the day, which include some back and forth language, especially on the speed goals.

A lot of issues were pushed to next year’s report. Nothing is set in stone – there are a few open items yet but the draft was adopted by Task Force members. Below are notes and videos from the day. Continue reading

January MN Broadband Task Force Meeting: January 6

Mark your calendar for a sneak preview of the 2016 Minnesota broadband report at the Minnesota Broadband Task Force meeting   …

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
January 6, 2016
DEED – James J. Hill Conference Room
1st National Bank Building
332 Minnesota Street
Saint Paul, MN, 55101-1351
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


10:00 a.m. — 10:10 a.m. Welcome, introductions, approval of minutes

10:10 a.m. — 10:20 a.m. Public comment

10:20 a.m. — 10:30 a.m. Update from the Office of Broadband Development

10:30 a.m. — 11:30 a.m. Discussion of recommendations to include in annual report

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Walk-thru of report

12:00 p.m. — 12:30 p.m. LUNCH

12:30 p.m. – 2:50 p.m. Review 2015 Task Force Report

2:50 p.m. — 3:00 p.m. Wrap-up, vote on possible adoption of report, January meeting

MN Broadband Task Force November Meeting Notes: Drafting the 2016 Report

Most of the time at yesterday’s meeting was spent combing through the Task Force draft report in groups. I was disappointed that they didn’t get to a discussion of speed goals or recommendations but they did discuss all other aspects of the report.

Here’s the draft handed out at the meeting. It will be helpful as you read through the notes below

11:00 a.m. — 11:10 a.m. Welcome, introductions, approval of minutes – done
11:10 a.m. — 11:20 a.m. Public comment – done
11:20 a.m. — 11:30 a.m. Update from the Office of Broadband Development

$11 million in grants
$18 million in matching
Awards from $100,000 up to $5 million. Good geographic distribution.
Next step is to convene the group of awardees to walk them through the grant process.

We are often asked about the role of the Task Force in grant awards. We try to make it clear that the Task Force is not involved at all.

We have heard from Internet 2 folks. They did a high level state-level report on education and broadband. MN is not one of the 38 states listed with a forward looking designation. Mostly because the Governor was not able to give a quote in time for the publication.


11:30 a.m. — 1:40 p.m. Discussion of broadband speed goal recommendations – The Task Force broke up into three groups to discuss the report. Continue reading

Minnesota Broadband Task Force Meeting Agenda: Nov 23

Sorry this notice is a little late. It’s the agenda for the Nov 23 Broadband Task Force meeting…

Broadband Task Force – November 23, 2015
DEED – James J. Hill Conference Room
1st National Bank Building
332 Minnesota Street
Saint Paul, MN, 55101-1351
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

11:00 a.m. — 11:10 a.m. Welcome, introductions, approval of minutes

11:10 a.m. — 11:20 a.m. Public comment

11:20 a.m. — 11:30 a.m. Update from the Office of Broadband Development

11:30 a.m. — 12:30 a.m. Discussion of broadband speed goal recommendations

12:30 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. LUNCH

1:00 p.m. — 2:50 p.m. Review 2015 Task Force Report

2:50 p.m. — 3:00 p.m. Wrap up, plans for December 8 meeting

MN Broadband Task Force October Meeting Notes: Lessons from libraries and speed goals

Yesterday at the Minnesota Broadband Task Force, the task force members heard about broadband in the libraries. I think there are some lessons to be learned from the libraries (in the spirit of full disclosure I was a librarian and have a Master’s degree in Library and Info Science). Libraries do a good job gathering stories and have data ready for legislators when it comes time for funding. Also they have worked a deal where federal and state funding work together to optimize opportunities for patrons.

The Task Members talked a bit about the report they will be writing in the next few months but the real discussion centered on updating the broadband speed goals.

Draft language for speed goals was introduced…

Minnesota defines broadband as an always-on internet connection with advertised speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload. By 2020, all homes and business will have affordable access to service that meets this minimum speed. Also by 2020, at least 80% of MN households and businesses will have access to at least one provider of broadband with speeds of at least 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload.

Spirited conversation ensued. Below is a video of the discussion, the audio is the best I could do.

Read on for more complete notes from the meeting. I am hoping to get PowerPoints from more presenter to share and will add them when/if I do. Continue reading

Minnesota Broadband Task Force September Meeting Notes: E-Rate, CAF and Speed Goals

Today the Task Force met. They heard from the FCC about CAF and E-Rates. I thought the most compelling part of the discussion was the way the rules have changed to open a door to allow a school or library to become an even stronger anchor tenant in rural areas in terms of offsetting costs of building and supporting fiber networks. Also the folks from the FCC were pretty clear that fiber is the gold standard but that when (as in some rural areas) no one will look at deploying fiber that the FCC will look at other options.

There was also an interesting discussion on speeds – from the perspective of how/why should the Task Force update the State Speed Goals. Most folks seemed to feel that it was essential to define a numerical goal – because what gets measured gets done. But there was a push to also include non-numeric goals as well – such as becoming a world class leader. While the current goal is 10/5 MB, there was discussion about changing it to the FCC definition, which is 25/3 MB. That is clearly a decrease in the upload goal. Some folks thought that it made sense to go with a recognized standard or even to leave out the numbers and just go with “using the FCC definition” then when it changed so would the state goals. The discussion appears to be an ongoing topic.

I have posted full notes below. Immediately after the meeting the folks from the FCC presented at a webinar for the Blandin Foundation. That webinar was recorded and will be posted very soon. Once posted I will include the link here – it is more complete that my notes below.

Continue reading

DEED Broadband Updates: Events, Looking for Mapping Ideas and Task Force Openings

The latest newsletter from DEED’s Office of Broadband Development is out. Here are some of the highlights…

Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Applications Due September 15

Reminder—the deadline for applying for the 2015 Border to Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program is fast approaching. Applications can be submitted until 4:00 p.m., September 15, 2015.

The application is available on our website at http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/index.jsp. We have also posted an FAQ document and information on the challenge process. If you have any additional questions, you can reach us at 651/259-7610 or at DEED.broadband@state.mn.us

If your area/community/neighborhood is interested in broadband service but unable to file an application at this time, we would encourage you to fill out an expression of interest to help us document interest in the grant program. An expression of interest can be submitted by filling out the form available at http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/bbinterest.jsp

Broadband Mapping for Minnesota

On September 3, the Office held a meeting with mapping stakeholders to gather input for developing specifications for the next round of broadband mapping. If you have thoughts or ideas on how the mapping data is collected or presented, please email the office deed.broadband@state.mn.us with your input on what you would like to see considered in future rounds of broadband mapping.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Vacancy

There is currently a vacancy on the Task Force. Applications are being solicited through the open appointments process and are due September 30. The announcement and application material is on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website at: http://www.sos.state.mn.us/index.aspx?page=308

Upcoming Events


Governor’s Task Force on Broadband: The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 10, 2015. Location will be at the James J. Hill Conference Room at DEED’s offices in the 1st National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, St. Paul. Here’s a link to the Agenda. Please note that there is an hour scheduled to take comments on what broadband speed goals the Task Force should recommend to replace the goals expiring in 2015.


Universal Service Fund – Supporting Broadband in Rural Places Webinar: We are fortunate to have two representatives from the FCC visiting the state on September 10th to address the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband about new E-Rate opportunities. In addition to in-person meetings, they have agreed to do a live webinar while they are here. Sign up here, and please pass along to your K-12 colleagues who may be interested.

Save the Date! Border to Border Broadband: Better Together  November 18-20, 2015. Minneapolis Marriot West. Details to come. Sponsored by the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development and the Blandin Foundation.

Next Minnesota Broadband Task Force is September 10

The next Minnesota Broadband Task Force meeting is Thursday September 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at DEED’s offices (James J. Hill Conference Room) in the 1st National Bank Building at 332 Minnesota Street in downtown St. Paul.

The full agenda isn’t out yet. I will plan to attend and take notes as usual. I suspect they will start  digging into the reports that are due at the end of the year.

I have heard that they will be discussing speed goals and will schedule time for a public comment period on what speed goals  other entities/individuals believe should be adopted as the goals in Minnesota Statutes at 237.012 expire in 2015.

If you or your organization has an interest or ideas for what broadband speed goals should be considered, know of this opportunity to address the Task Force. The public comment period will be scheduled during the afternoon portion of the meeting.

Minnesota Broadband Task Force July Meeting Notes: CTC Partnerships & E-Rate and Speed Goals

Today the meeting was held in Brainerd. It was good to see the town as welcoming as ever after recent storms. It was also good to hear from CTC about the different partnerships they have and how they have helped them bring fiber to wider and wider groups of their customers. The Task Force also got a crash course in E-Rate by hearing aboy how it works and what it means to Brainerd Schools. Read on for full notes…

Continue reading

MInnesota Broadband Task Force Meetings for July and August

More news from the Office of Broadband Development…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband: The next meeting is Wednesday, July 15 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the CTC Conference Room at the Brainerd Lakes Chamber located at 224 West Washington Street, Brainerd, MN 56401 (in the Tyrol Hills Shopping Center). The Task Force will be welcomed by Chamber President Matt Killian, hear a presentation from CTC, discuss the broadband speed goals and hear about the Brainerd School District’s use of federal E-rate funding.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband at Farmfest! The August meeting of the Task Force will be held as part of Rural Broadband Day at Farmfest on Tuesday, August 4th. The Task Force will hold its business meeting from 9:00 to 10:30 and then various broadband presentations and panels are scheduled for the remainder of the day. Farmfest is located at the Gilfillan Estate in Redwood County. More information is available at http://www.ideaggroup.com/farmfest

I hope to attend both and take notes.

Minnesota Broadband Task Force June Meeting: Introductions and new members

I didn’t attend the Broadband Task Force yesterday, but I did get notes to share. And I’ve been to a few meetings so I fleshed it out a little. The meeting is the first for the latest iteration of the Task Force. A couple of bright spots include – the added focus on broadband availability and the interest in redressing state speed goals, which were defined more than a few years ago now.

The meeting opened with introductions of Task Force members. You can see list of members; about half are new, especially when you know that one of the new really served as substitute for a former member most of the time.)

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who remains Task Force Chair, gave an introduction to the Task Force, including a history and talk on their mandate. I’ll borrow from the Task Force website to fill in…

The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband develops policies to promote the expansion of broadband access throughout Minnesota.

The task force is responsible for developing an action plan to identify and correct disparities in access and adoption of broadband in all Minnesota communities, with a goal of ensuring that homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses have access to the technology and information resources they need.

The goal is to focus on broadband access, adoption and affordability. One bright spot is the addition of affordability to the shortlist. Again having been to a lot of meetings, I can tell you that affordability often comes up but few groups have resigned to take it on I think it part because affordable can be subjective. I heard someone in a meeting in Chisago Lakes correct himself and change “affordable” to competitive. I think that was an astute correction.

The spoke about who was the audience for the work of the Task Force:

  • Governor
  • Legislature
  • Other policy makers

These are the folks who read the reports generated by the Task Force and it seems like th Task Force gets the opportunity to speak to/with these groups on various occasions.

Danna MacKenzie gave and introduction to the Office of Broadband Development. Again I’ll borrow from the website to flesh out the answer…

Border-to-border high-speed Internet access is the goal throughout Minnesota. The Office of Broadband Development helps Minnesota residents understand broadband options available.

The OBD is a resource to Task Force. For example, Jane Leonard is drafting white papers on the economic impact of BB to MN’s economy. It’s due out in the fall and could help inform the Task Force report and recommendations.

They reviewed the 2015 work plan.

The recognized 2015 priorities:

  • 1) Make new recommendation for new speed goals for MN (TF will address at July meeting , and pick up discussion at Sept TF mtg)
  • 2) Set goals for K-12 connectivity

The Task Force will again do much of their work in sub-committees and members will figure out which committees they would like to join before the next meeting.

Appointments to Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Announced

Here’s the news…

Governor Mark Dayton has announced the appointments to the Task Force on Broadband. Members of the Task Force will serve during the Governor’s second term. New members of the Task Force include:

  • Hannah Buckland, Director of Library Services at Leech Lake Tribal College and a resident of Bemidji.
  • Denise Dittrich, Associate Director for Governmental Relations for the Minnesota School Boards Association and a resident of Champlin.
  • Kevin Hansen, Vice President of Data Center Strategy for Thomson Reuters and a resident of Eagan.
  • Shannon Heim, Senior Counsel at Dykema Gossett PLLC, in Minneapolis.
  • Neela Mollgaard, Executive Director of Red Wing Ignite.
  • Donald Niles, Wadena city council member.
  • Andrew Schriner, Director of Public Policy at CenturyLink and a resident of Eagan.

Reappointed members of the Task Force include

  • Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Executive Director of the Minnesota High Tech Association and former Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Ms. Kelliher, a resident of Minneapolis, will continue as Chair of the Task Force.
  • Angie Dickison, Information Systems Director for Lake County.
  • Maureen Ideker, Director of Telehealth for Essentia Health and a resident of Sunburg.
  • Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy and Engagement at the Blandin Foundation based in Grand Rapids.
  • Steve Lewsader, President of the Communications Workers of America, Local 7201 in St. Paul and a resident of South St. Paul.
  • Daniel Richter, President of MVTV Wireless, headquartered in Granite Falls.
  • Richard Sjoberg, President and CEO of Sjoberg’s Cable based in Thief River Falls.
  • Paul Weirtz, President, AT&T Minnesota and a resident of Bayport.