Minnesota perspective on President Obama’s broadband announcement

After President Obama’s speech last week asking FCC to look at state law’s that act as barriers to municipal networks, Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Weber spoke to Danna MacKenzie (Office of Broadband Development) and Chris Mitchell (Institute for Local Self Reliance) about what the request may mean for Minnesota.

They had a detailed conversation on Minnesota’s law that hinders municipal broadband networks- specifically municipalities need to hold a referendum to vote on whether they can provide telephone service to the community and the vote requires a super-majority(2/3 approval) to pass.

Mitchell points out that this proposed change really puts the decision into the hands of the most local government – a movement that has bipartisan support. It doesn’t mean everyone wants to build a community network but they’d like to be able to make their own decision.

The Office of Broadband Development is seeing more public-private partnerships. The partnership can make it easier to get past some of these restrictions but there’s no guarantee that it won’t’ lead to lawsuits and the lawsuits can drag on and cause networks to fail regardless of who wins (and/or is in the right).

There was an interesting discussion on the need to not only have ubiquitous broadband coverage, but to ensure that there is competition throughout the state. And a discussion on fiber and wireless.