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.

Challenge period for Minnesota Broadband Grants is extended to Nov 21

News from the Office of Broadband Development…

Forty applications for the Border to Border Broadband Development grant program were received and the challenge process was initiated on November 5th. Because of the detail that must be reviewed to determine whether and what to challenge, the OBD has received multiple requests for an extension of the challenge deadline. The OBD will extend the challenge deadline to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, November 21, 2014.  Any challenges must be submitted to the Office of Broadband Development, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, 1st National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101. As a reminder, a list of the applications filed and instructions on how to file a challenge, if necessary, are available at http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/index.jsp under the “Application Process” tab. This list was updated November 13, 2014. The OBD, as noted on the table, does have pdf maps for many of the projects that were not included in the challenge document. If a potential challenger is interested in reviewing those maps to prepare a challenge, please contact us at deed.broadband@state.mn.us or at 651/259-7610 to request those maps.

Rep Kresha rallies District 09B to go for Broadband Development Funding

I post this update for a few reasons:

  1. The Office of Broadband Development has been clear about hoping to get a good response to the Minnesota Broadband Fund. (Applications should be available in a few weeks.)
  2. I love to see elected official focus on broadband. (Rep Kresha has been instrumental in the broadband fund.)
  3. It’s a chance to spread the word to folks in District 09B

Long Prairie Leader reports…

Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, is seeking input from local citizens in an attempt to improve area Internet service and broadband access in Greater Minnesota.

An estimated $20 million in grants will be appropriated by the state to help boost broadband access. Kresha hopes a portion of the funding will be used to improve broadband access to underserved areas in District 09B. Constituent input is needed to determine where the problem-areas are, and which parts are in the greatest need for expanded broadband access during the grant application process. …

Kresha encouraged constituents to contact his legislative office and provide information about possible areas for broadband expansion in District 09B or elsewhere. Addresses and phone numbers are requested. Kresha asked constituents to contact his office at 651-296-4247 or rep.ron.kresha@house.mn to provide input or for more information.