MinnPost looks at the PUC’s decision to investigate LTD Broadband

More mainstream media on the situation with LTD Broadband and the Minnesota PUC from MinnPost

The embattled telecom company LTD Broadband has been stopped from building subsidized high-speed internet infrastructure in several states. Now, LTD might be in trouble in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Thursday ordered an investigation of LTD to determine if they should block the small company from using a whopping $311 million in federal money for construction of broadband in Minnesota’s rural areas amid fierce criticism alleging LTD can’t deliver fiber internet as promised.

“We don’t want to get a situation where they claim they have ability to build out and they get out there and they can’t do it – scrambling for more assets and then all of the sudden it just collapses,” Commissioner John Tuma, a Republican, said in an interview following the PUC’s hearing.

They include a perspective from LTD…

Corey Hauer, the company’s CEO, has told MinnPost it can expand rapidly and has simply figured out how to deploy fiber-optic cable easier, faster and cheaper than aggrieved competitors. Hauer characterized the regulatory filing as a nuisance.

On Thursday, Andrew Carlson, an attorney for LTD, told the PUC the company is in good standing in Minnesota. He said reopening its state credentials would set a dangerous precedent allowing critics to continually question their process and force investigations “anytime any other competitor has complaints or concerns or just competitive animus against” an eligible telecom provider. It could also jeopardize that FCC funding for Minnesota altogether, he said.

The plan moving forward…

The PUC largely ruled against LTD, ordering what’s known as a contested case hearing before an administrative law judge to take a closer look at the capability of the company. The commission did not cancel LTD Broadband’s status, but it decided to consider whether it should and seek more information, following recommendations from the AG’s office, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and a state task force on broadband policy.

Mainstream media look at PUC’s decision to investigate LTD Broadband

I wrote about this yesterday, but always good to see what the mainstream press are saying about telecom issues; here’s what the Minneapolis Star Tribune is saying about LTD and the PUC…

Minnesota utility regulators Thursday approved an investigation into revoking a key permit for LTD Broadband, the big winner of a federal auction to provide broadband to rural areas.

Revocation of LTD’s telecommunications permit in Minnesota could result in the company — and the state — losing out on $311 million in federal broadband subsidies.

Trade groups for Minnesota telecom and rural electricity providers petitioned the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the revocation investigation.

They say that since the PUC granted LTD the permit last year, several events have occurred in other states that call into question the company’s ability to deliver on its commitments — a claim LTD denies.

If you haven’t been watching this story play out, I think the thing that’s hard to understand is that losing the $311 million may be better than wasting it and not getting what communities need. The article touches on that point…

The Minnesota Department of Commerce and the state attorney general’s office both recommended that the PUC initiate the revocation investigation.

Sieben said she has some concern about whether LTD’s grant money “would come back to Minnesota” if the PUC revokes the company’s ETC status.

Kristin Berkland, an assistant Minnesota attorney general, said there is no guarantee it would come back to a Minnesota (broadband) provider.

But Berkland said it is just as dangerous for the $311 million to be rebid as it is for “commitments made for that money not being carried out.”

Four counties — all of which would host LTD projects — and the Minnesota Association of Townships have supported a revocation investigation. In PUC filings, they also said they’re concerned about LTD’s ability to live up to its commitments.

Some — including LeSueur County — have noted that areas covered by LTD’s federal grants in Minnesota haven’t been eligible for a big pot of state broadband subsidies. The state rejected LeSueur County’s bid for two broadband grants in early 2021 because they would’ve overlapped with LTD’s federal awards.

MN PUC will move forward on looking into LTD’s ETC designation, which may alter RDOF standing

Today the MN Public Utilities Commission heard from  Minnesota Telephone Alliance (MTA) and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) and LTD Broadband about the case that MTA and MREA have made that the PUC should consider looking into LTD’s ETC license. Having ETC designation was part of the requirements to get the $311 million that they have qualified to potentially get to deploy FTTH in many part of rural Minnesota.

The PUC is moving forward with three of the recommendations (actually 1, 3 and 7 from the list below):

  1. Open a proceeding to determine whether there is cause to revoke the ETC designation of LTD (Petitioners, Department, and OAG),
  2. Refer the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) with the request that proceedings provide for discovery, the cross-examination of expert witnesses, and be conducted expeditiously (LTD and Department), or
  3. Delegate scheduling to the administrative law judge (ALJ), designated lead commissioner, or subcommittee of commissioners (Department),

Full notes from the meeting (not proofed)

 

Should the Commission initiate a proceeding to consider revoking LTD Broadband LLC expanded ETC designation, which was granted in the Commission’s June 3, 2021, Order Approving Petition for ETC Designation in Certain Census Blocks?

  1. Open a proceeding to determine whether there is cause to revoke the ETC designation of LTD (Petitioners, Department, and OAG), or
  2. Decline to open a proceeding (LTD).

[If the Commission selects decision option 1, also select a type of procedure in decision options 3-5 and a schedule in decision options 8-10.]

Questions:

What would trigger us to change the ETC license? (Asked to petitioners.)

You have to ask yourself if you have reason to believe that LTD will be unable to fulfill their obligations. We think they won’t be able to meet their obligations. They have lost 30 percent of bid locations by missing deadlines. We’ve heard many complaints on their service. Three other states have decided to revoke their license because they felt they would not be able. North Dakota went so far as to say they would not be able to meet the obligations – going beyond simply concern. We’d like you to look into the facts to see how you feel once you take a second look.

So we said earlier that we had trust. And now we’re saying there may be evidence to the contrary. That’s the procedure?

Yes. Right now it’s a matter of deciding that it’s worth a second look. Then if you decide yes, then we look into the information leading to a revocation of license.

So what does LTD say about this?

You’re asking the same question as you asked a year ago – nothing has changed. This is a reconsideration rule. We don’t think this is a good idea. There’s nothing happening in MN that would make LTD less able as an ETC. They are on schedule with other federal contracts in Minnesota.

Also this might be a slippery slope. Any time an ETC is new and runs into a bump, can they be brought to the PUC again?

It seems that the petitioners are putting LEC )Local Exchange Carrier) rules on LTD and LTD is not an LEC.

Last year, the PUC decided this was a good idea because it meant $311 million federal funds coming to Minnesota.

Yes – we did say yes to LTD’s ETC because of the promise of the money. But we’re hearing from local communities that this possible contract is actually keeping them from getting grants and other funding that would help build broadband. We’re seeing this especially in Le Sueur. The next 6-10 months is a critical time for these communities for getting money.

As soon as we (LTD) get the money, we can start building broadband. Others could build in this area with their own money. The grants are the only tricky thing. Broadband wouldn’t get built as fast as the complaints seem to think it would happen. More than half the areas LTD bid on in MN had no competitive bids. The RDOF goes as fast at the FCC is making decisions. Maybe the complaints aren’t with LTD, they have with the FCC process.

Sounds like the Office of Attorney General thinks we should reopen this topic?

Yes. (From OAG.) The allegations raised do warrant further investigation. The PUC is not a court, it’s an ongoing process and things change.

Yes – I agree. (From another OAG person.) Today we are talking about opening a case that talks about whether LTD is the right chose for Minnesota. ETC designations are not static – but we need to look at changes.

What does the local Government say?

Le Sueur County is small and rural. We have been working for 5 years about how to get better broadband. We were successful with Border to Border grants. Unfortunately our last grant was denied because of the situation with LTD and RDOF. We are going to re-submit that application but it will now cost $400,000 more. We know our area well – the needs and the existing infrastructure. We don’t understand how LTD can meet our needs for the price that they bid.

So more than the lose of the RDOF money – folks are concerned that the RDOF project is blocking other money?

Right. This isn’t about competitive animus – it’s about wanting to get broadband to our communities.

Can LTD respond to the idea that nothing has changed? We are hearing about a lot of change.

Nothing has changed in Minnesota. In South Dakota it boiled down to one consultant being convincing. The FCC may or may not use ETC status in their decision making for funding.

We have concern that if we move forward and do reject the ETC would the $311 million come back to Minnesota?

No. The funds will roll into RDOF 2 and reauctioned.

Do you think it’s worth the risk?

More dangerous than having the money leave MN is spending the money and not getting what we need.

Would you be opposed to a trade secret agreement?

Yes – because our long form application is a work in progress.

AFTER BREAK

Sounds like LTD will be sharing info with the PUC.

Comments from PUC Commissioners

  • I think we should move forward with proceedings – including testimony and cross examination. (Means)
  • I agree – we should send to OAH for more development (Sullican)
  • Yes – we should focus on ETC designation. So we really need to focus on 1, 3 and 7. (Tuma)
  • I think we need to looing info proceeding. (Sieben)

The are moving forward with:

Open a proceeding to determine whether there is cause to revoke the ETC designation of LTD (Petitioners, Department, and OAG),
Refer the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) with the request that proceedings provide for discovery, the cross-examination of expert witnesses, and be conducted expeditiously (LTD and Department), or

Delegate scheduling to the administrative law judge (ALJ), designated lead commissioner, or subcommittee of commissioners (Department),

Here are all of the items on their docket:

Should the Commission initiate a proceeding to consider revoking LTD Broadband LLC expanded ETC designation, which was granted in the Commission’s June 3, 2021, Order Approving Petition for ETC Designation in Certain Census Blocks?

  1. Open a proceeding to determine whether there is cause to revoke the ETC designation of LTD (Petitioners, Department, and OAG), or
  1. Decline to open a proceeding (LTD).

[If the Commission selects decision option 1, also select a type of procedure in decision options 3-5 and a schedule in decision options 8-10.]

What type of procedure should be used?

  1. Refer the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) with the request that proceedings provide for discovery, the cross-examination of expert witnesses, and be conducted expeditiously (LTD and Department), or
  2. Initiate an expedited proceeding pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 237.61 for record development (Petitioners), or

[If the Commission selects decision option 4, also select a type of expedited proceeding in decision options 5–6.]

What type of expedited proceedings should be used, and should it include party crossexamination?

  1. Designate a sub-committee of Commissioners under Minn. Stat. §216A.03, subd. 8 (Petitoners), [if selected, also select a sub-option], a. with party cross-examination, or b. without party cross-examination. Or
  2. Designate a lead Commissioner under Minn. Stat. § 216A.03, subd. 9 (Petitioners) [if selected, also select a sub-option] a. with party cross-examination, or b. without party cross-examination. What schedule should be used?
  3. Delegate scheduling to the administrative law judge (ALJ), designated lead commissioner, or subcommittee of commissioners (Department), or
  4. adopt one of the schedules proposed by the petitioners (Petitioners), or
  5. adopt the schedule proposed by LTD (LTD).

Should the Commission order LTD to submit its FCC RDOF long form application to the Commission?

  1. Require LTD to provide its long form application to the Commission, Department of Commerce, Attorney General’s Office and Petitioners subject to the terms of an approved Protective Order(Petitioners, Department, and OAG), or
  2. Do not require LTD to provide its long form application to the Commission (LTD). Should the Commission address LTD’s certification for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) funding in 2023?
  3. Do not address LTD’s certification for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) funding in 2023 (LTD, Department, and OAG), or
  4. Decline to certify LTD for 2023 funding (Petitioners).

Minneapolis Star Tribune outlines the issues with LTD Broadband and possible federal funding (RDOF)

I have been tracking the situation with LTD and RDOF since the beginning. Here’s a succinct update…

LTD Broadband was awarded the sole opportunity apply for funding to expand fiber in much of Minnesota. The opportunity has been controversial. Some question their ability to fulfill the order, should they get it. To that end, Minnesota industry associations are asking the MN PUC to revoke the ETC status for LTD Broadband. In fact, the PUC has that issue on their agenda for a meeting scheduled for Thursday (July 14) a1 10am. People are invited to attend in person or remotely.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune article outlines the whole ordeal if you want more detail; here’s a portion I found interesting…

Winning [RDOF] bidders were chosen on their promises of low costs and high internet speeds. The companies were given three years to meet build-out benchmarks and three more years to complete their projects.

But federal subsidies cover only a portion of a fiber project’s costs, and LTD has been awarded grants to cover 528,000 U.S. locations — 102,000 in Minnesota alone. It would be a massive broadband buildout.

In comments to the state PUC, four Minnesota counties that would host LTD’s projects — LeSueur, Pine, Jackson and Chippewa — were skeptical of the company’s abilities to follow through, as was the Minnesota Association of Townships.

“LTD’s unproven track record causes us considerable concern that they will be able to provide broadband services to the the areas they were awarded,” Jackson County Administrator Ryan Krosch said in a PUC filing.

Counties also faulted LTD for a lack of a communication.

“Chippewa County representatives have attempted to contact LTD on several occasions to collaborate and request updates on their progress,” County Auditor Michelle May said in comments to the PUC. “Those attempts have failed” and the county has “lost faith” in LTD, she said.

Hauer said he has personally met with county officials across the country.

“The question from counties is always ‘when,’ and, of course, the answer is ‘as soon as possible.’ We want to do it as quickly as we can,” he said.

MN PUC responds to request to revoke LTD Broadband’s ETC designation: PUC MEETING on July 14

The next chapter starts in the story of LTD Broadband and RDOF awards. It reads like a good soap opera for a very niche audience. The more you know, the more interesting it is. Here’s a high level recap akin to a TV series catch up…

LTD Broadband was awarded the sole opportunity apply for funding to expand fiber in much of Minnesota. The opportunity has been controversial. Some question their ability to fulfill the order, should they get it. To that end, Minnesota Telephone Alliance (MTA) and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, asking them to revoke the ETC status for LTD Broadband. Earlier this month, the PUC posted replies they received on the request.

Today they have posted the staff analysis and announced a meeting on July 14. Here are the details:

Thursday, July 14, 2022
10:00am
Large Hearing Room, 121 7th Pl E, Suite 350, St. Paul, MN 55101 AND Online via WebEx, See attached instructions

There’s a push to get people in the room or on the Webex if you have any concerns. There are four agenda items; LTD is third. But I’m pretty sure the building is airconditioned and has wifi so maybe worth the drive.

The staff analysis highlights a few points: the FCC may drop LTD without the hearing, RDOF investment is $311 million, which may not be reinvested in MN is out and LTD doesn’t think the PUC has authority to make a decision…

There are several things the Commission may wish to consider in determining how this matter should proceed. First, the OAG made several key points in comments and reply comments. The OAG pointed out there is the possibility of the FCC denying LTD’s long-form application. If this were to occur during the pendency of this proceeding, this proceeding would be rendered moot. Even if the record in this proceeding suggests the Commission not revoke LTD’s RDOF ETC designation, LTD will not be eligible to receive RDOF funds.34 This suggests that this proceeding might be premature.

Additionally, in the event the Commission determines that LTD’s RDOF ETC designation should be revoked, this RDOF Phase I support ($311 million) will not automatically be redistributed to Minnesota RDOF ETCs. As the FCC has done in the past, the funds will likely be rolled into a new RDOF Phase I auction or into the RDOF Phase II auction.35 As such, the Commission should proceed with caution regarding this matter.

Finally, LTD raises the question of Commission jurisdiction over carriers in circumstances such as LTD Broadband (non-certificated voice over internet protocol (“VOIP”) providers). …

LTD argued that these rules are not applicable to carriers such as LTD. These rules apply only to providers operating under a certificate of authority. LTD also argued that the Commission’s June 3, 2021, LTD Expansion Order acknowledged that its oversight of LTD arises from delegated authority under federal law rather than state law.

And here’s the distillation of the decision options that I suspect they will discuss at the July 14 meeting:

Should the Commission initiate a proceeding to consider revoking LTD Broadband LLC expanded ETC designation, which was granted in the Commission’s June 3, 2021, Order Approving Petition for ETC Designation in Certain Census Blocks?

  1. Open a proceeding to determine whether there is cause to revoke the ETC designation of LTD (Petitioners, Department, and OAG), or
  2. Decline to open a proceeding (LTD).

[If the Commission selects decision option 1, also select a type of procedure in decision options 3-5 and a schedule in decision options 8-10.]

What type of procedure should be used?

  1. Refer the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) with the request that proceedings provide for discovery, the cross-examination of expert witnesses, and be conducted expeditiously (LTD and Department), or
  2. Initiate an expedited proceeding pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 237.61 for record development (Petitioners), or

[If the Commission selects decision option 4, also select a type of expedited proceeding in decision options 5–6.]

What type of expedited proceedings should be used, and should it include party crossexamination?

  1. Designate a sub-committee of Commissioners under Minn. Stat. §216A.03, subd. 8 (Petitoners), [if selected, also select a sub-option], a. with party cross-examination, or b. without party cross-examination. Or
  2. Designate a lead Commissioner under Minn. Stat. § 216A.03, subd. 9 (Petitioners) [if selected, also select a sub-option] a. with party cross-examination, or b. without party cross-examination. What schedule should be used?
  3. Delegate scheduling to the administrative law judge (ALJ), designated lead commissioner, or subcommittee of commissioners (Department), or
  4. adopt one of the schedules proposed by the petitioners (Petitioners), or
  5. adopt the schedule proposed by LTD (LTD).

Should the Commission order LTD to submit its FCC RDOF long form application to the Commission?

  1. Require LTD to provide its long form application to the Commission, Department of Commerce, Attorney General’s Office and Petitioners subject to the terms of an approved Protective Order(Petitioners, Department, and OAG), or
  2. Do not require LTD to provide its long form application to the Commission (LTD). Should the Commission address LTD’s certification for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) funding in 2023?
  3. Do not address LTD’s certification for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) funding in 2023 (LTD, Department, and OAG), or
  4. Decline to certify LTD for 2023 funding (Petitioners).

 

Replies submitted on MN PUC petition to look at LTD Broadband’s eligibility for funding

Minnesota Telephone Alliance and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association jointly filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, asking them to revoke the ETC status for LTD Broadband. The petition stems from LTD being the winner in the RDOF auction in Minnesota to receive $311 million to bring broadband to 102,000 passing in the state. In the RDOF filings, LTD promises to build fiber-to-the-premise. The petition contends that LTD can’t make the financial commitments to fulfill the RDOF pledge.

  • The PUC invited comments on the petition until June 1, 2022; earlier this month, I annotated those comments. The reply period is ended June 8. Here’s a look at what came in (links below go to their full responses):
  • Chippewa County – they support a proceeding to consider revoking the ETC status. Chippewa is in an area impacted by situation. In 2017, they did a feasibility study that indicated it would cost $15 million to get broadband to residents. They are worried that costs will go up and because LTD would be given 10 years to complete the project, they are concerned that residents will be left unserved/underserved for years and they are concerned about the loss of economic opportunity during that time. Also, they have tried to connect with LTD and failed. They “have lost faith that LTD can fulfill their promises.”
  • MN Attorney General Keith Ellison – The original comments from the AG supported a proceeding and recommended that LTD share their long form. The reply addresses specific issues that LTD and others made in their earlier comments. I’ll pulling out the ones that I think are most salient to a wider audience. They point out that ETC forms are in flux and suggest that supports a proceeding to look at ETC status and to look at it separately for RDOF and CAF II funding (another pool of federal funds). They recommend that the PUC sees LTD’s long form application for RDOF award but also recommend strict confidentiality. The long form should help the PUC determine capacity. If LTD is turned down during a proceeding, the AG feels the proceeding is moot.
  • MN Telecom Alliance and MN Rural Electric Association – As expected, MTA and MREA still support the proceeding. They mention other incidents where LTD has been called out unfavorably. They also highlight the tone of LTD’s comments; they relied on technicalities to stop the proceeding rather than address their ability to meet requirements for ETC designation. They also question, in detail, the legitimacy of LTD’s specific concerns. They are generally in agreement with earlier comments from folks who generally support moving forward with the proceeding; although they feel like the proceeding is important regardless of the RDOF award because the federal folks look to state agencies to know the people and the territories.
  • LTD – As expected, LTD disagrees with most of the commenters. They claim that the commenters bring nothing new to the table. They assert that the commenters are not addressing the question at hand – whether a proceeding makes sense procedurally. but rather are commenting as if it has. They also do not want to be singled out and feel if their ETC designation is being questioned, so should everyone else’s. They maintain that if the ETC is revoked, it opens a door where competitors could start similar proceeding with other ETCs.
  • Department of Commerce – they support a proceeding to consider revoking the ETC status and referred to the Office of Administrative Hearings with discovery, witnesses and LTD’s long form application. They note that rules have been changed for Border to Border funding; last time communities in areas that might receive RDOF finding were disqualified from state funding; this year they are only disqualified if the funding has been decided (enforceable commitment).

A look at comments submitted on MN PUC petition to look at LTD Broadband’s eligibility for funding

I just wrote about Doug Dawson’s take on the situation for LTD and the PUC and RDOF. I thought about adding this info – but to make it easier to find this info later, I decided to do two posts. But I’m going to borrow from Doug’s post for a quick background for new readers.

Minnesota Telephone Alliance and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association jointly filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, asking to revoke the ETC status for LTD Broadband. … The petition stems from LTD being the winner in the RDOF auction in Minnesota to receive $311 million to bring broadband to 102,000 passing in the state. In the RDOF filings, LTD promises to build fiber-to-the-premise to all of these passings. The petition contends that LTD can’t make the financial commitments to fulfill the RDOF pledge.

The PUC invited comments on the petition until June 1, 2022; now the reply comment period is open until June 8. Here is an annotated list of folks who submitted comments (links below go to their full response):

  • Institute for Local Self Reliance (national nonprofit research/advocacy group) – they support a proceeding to revoke ETC status. They are joined by League of Rural Voters and AARP-Minnesota. They give a detailed history of LTD and broadband in Minnesota, including offering context that LTD may be standing in the way of MN communities getting a share of the unprecedented funding coming from federal sources.
  • Le Sueur County – they support a proceeding to revoke the ETC status. They provide a frontline perspective noting that before the RDOF was announced, the County estimated FTTH would cost $12 million to build; LTD has bid closer to $1 million. That seems like a significant difference. They had a grant application in for State Border to Border funding for a project but it was rejected once LTD was awarded the opportunity to apply for RDOF money.
  • MN Attorney General Keith Ellison – they support a proceeding to revoke ETC status. They also say that LTD should share their RDOF long form submissions with the MN PUC. IN fact they suggestion that all RDOF ETCs share their forms. They recognize that while MN may lose the federal funding designated for LTD if the ETC is revoked; if it is not revoked the designated areas may find it difficult to get other funding, which holds them in a funding limbo.
  • Pine County – they offer recommendations that may speak more to the role of the FCC. They also talk about the difficulty is working to get ubiquitous broadband in the county when an outside vendor has a claim to funding for portions of the community and those claims have a 10 year hold if funds are received.
  • Minnesota Department of Commerce – they took a wait and see approach. They have detailed information and recommendations for what the PUC should consider. They say, “In response to the current proceeding, LTD should share its position and address the troubling allegations filed in the petition. Commerce will make recommendations to the Commission on whether to hold a proceeding and the nature of any possible proceeding in Reply Comments.”
  • LTD Broadband – they oppose the proceeding and cite legal aspects of the moving forward saying there is no legal basis for the petition and assert that broadband expansion through LTD Broadband is in the public interest.

Another take on LTD Broadband, the MN PUC and RDOF

Doug Dawson  (Pots and Pans)  has a nice overview of what’s happening with LTD Broadband and the Minnesota PUC…

I read a lot of petitions and pleadings at regulatory commissions. But one of the most extraordinary filings I can remember was made recently in Minnesota, where the Minnesota Telephone Alliance and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association jointly filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, asking to revoke the ETC status for LTD Broadband. I call this extraordinary because I can’t recall ever seeing a big group of petitioners asking to decertify another carrier.

The petition stems from LTD being the winner in the RDOF auction in Minnesota to receive $311 million to bring broadband to 102,000 passing in the state. In the RDOF filings, LTD promises to build fiber-to-the-premise to all of these passings. The petition contends that LTD can’t make the financial commitments to fulfill the RDOF pledge.

You can visit the site for more detail. I’ve written about the situation a lot in the past but always interesting to hear it again. His conclusion seems likely…

When I first read this petition, my first thought was that the primary reason for the petition is to put pressure on the FCC to reject LTD Broadband. I’m not sure what else is happening at the MPUC, but this filing likely means it’s not going to have a quiet summer.

MinnPost looks at PUC petition from MN Telecom folks focused on LTD Broadband

I mentioned this over the weekend and I suspect there will be more article but this has the potential to be a big deal so I’ll likely post them all.

MinnPost reports

Two trade groups have filed a petition with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission saying LTD Broadband will waste taxpayer time — and money — in the company’s bid to provide high speed broadband to roughly 160,000 people in the state.

The trade groups (MTA and MREA) say…

“Public funding is essential to bring broadband to unserved and underserved areas of rural Minnesota,” says the filing submitted by the Minnesota Telecom Alliance and the Minnesota Rural Electric Association. “But public dollars are limited, making it essential that those who obtain public funding can be counted on to deliver broadband to those areas as intended. The record will show that LTD cannot.”

LTD says…

Corey Hauer, the CEO of LTD Broadband, described the petition as a nuisance given the PUC has already approved the company. He said LTD can grow rapidly to meet the challenge of deploying a massive network of fiber-optic cable, despite having little experience building fiber, and will disrupt the industry like Elon Musk did with SpaceX and Tesla.

“The truth LTD Broadband is exposing is that deploying rural fiber is easier, faster and cheaper than the party line touted by some of our rural … competitors,” Hauer said.

What could happen…

If the PUC sides with the coalition of telecom providers and electric cooperatives, it would be the latest in a string of defeats for LTD Broadband across the country — and another reversal for a company that shocked the broadband industry by winning $1.32 billion in subsidies in 15 states from one of the country’s largest efforts to bring high-speed internet to rural areas.