AMC - Governor’s Broadband Task Force Update


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  • I am here primarily to hear from you where you still see the issues and any ideas you have for closing the gaps.
  • These statutory goals came out of previous task force work.
  • Highlights from the recent status report include:A recommendation to convene discussion on ways the state, counties, and municipalities can think differently about rights-of-way issues and permitting processes as a way to offer a low-cost enticement for private providers to build into their unserved areas. Work is being done to understand how to support and promote the creation and use of applications that leverage the investments already made in bandwidth infrastructure. Specific to this group’s interests, these applications will allow us to provide services more sustainably to rural areas, and create value for citizens, customers, and institutions.Some questions for counties include: Are we being good anchor tenants on the network? Are we putting your services online so citizens can interact with their government easier? Have you gone and looked at your website through the eyes of your constituents? Can you easily find out how to contact a staff person? Can you find online when and where county meetings are being held and what is being discussed? Can you get your permit applications online so you can take care of your business with the county in the evening, when you have time? I mentioned during the introduction that I had the opportunity to participate in the Humphrey School Public Policy Fellowship program this year. An initiative that came out of that program is an effort to find ways to help counties get the basics covered with their websites. By some measures, Minnesota counties get a D grade when it comes to serving their citizens online. Our Humphrey group is slated to speak at a session at your December meeting. I hope I can convince some of you to attend and pick up some easy to implement ideas on how you can better serve your constituents and state-wide partners through more effective use of your websites.
  • The September status report was the beginning of a policy recommendation process that will culminate in more formal recommendations in a December report. Some of the incentive ideas that have been put on the table for more discussion and possible advancement include:Increase funding for public schools and libraries for computers and internet access.Scholarships for broadband access to students who meet federal poverty guidelinesEducation tax credit for broadbandTax credits or grants to providers building to unserved areas.Sales tax exemptions for equipment and fiber optic cable for broadband deployments.Coordinate highway construction projects and the installation of conduit to save on costs of building back-haul to unserved areas.Build a database that allows those constructing broadband lines to know when other projects are being done and facilitate shared construction costs.Provide incentives for rural telehealth collaborations.Facilitate distribution of free or discounted computers to disadvantaged K-12 students.Support digital literacy programs. 
  • Another piece of this month’s report is an updated map of where we are at as a state with access to highspeed broadband. 59.9% of Minnesota households currently have access to a level of broadband that will allow them to fully participate in the upcoming generation of services.This map, which shows where the 40% of our households are in the state that do not have access to the level of broadband that has been defined by the state as necessary to participate fully in the next generation of health, education, government, and entertainment services.The gold represents underserved areas. The cream represents areas that still have no access, and the blue areas have some mobile broadband service available.
  • County commissioner voices are important in making sure your citizens, businesses, and institutions have access to levels of broadband that will prevent them from falling behind in education, healthcare access, and economic prosperity. This does not mean counties need to get into the telecom business! Some have chosen to do so in the absence of other options, and that should be their right. But it is not a prerequisite for helping to make sure this infrastructure exists in your area.Are you one of the counties that shows up on these studies as least served? Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Fillmore, Itasca, Kanabec, Lake, Le Seur, Mahnomen, Mower, Pine, St. Louis, Steele, Traverse, and Waseca counties are identified as having 10% or more of their households without access to even the most basic broadband services, or today’s version of dial-up. Whether you are on this list or not, does your county have problems with access? For your citizens or your businesses or your institutions?The odds are likely that you are one of the 63 Minnesota counties where less than 50% of the population is able to access a level of service necessary for to run the next generation of health, education, and government services. Not to mention the current standard for entertainment services that are important to keeping younger generations living in our communities?Do you feel you know what you need to know to advocate for your community? Where are the gaps?Have you answered the survey from Connect Minnesota?
  • If any of this resonates with you, I would encourage you to reach out to me, others on the task force, or the Blandin Broadband Strategy staff with your ideas, concerns, and feedback.The state broadband conference is an excellent place to connect with other community leaders who are working on this infrastructure issue. This year it is being held in Duluth on November 13-14. I encourage you to consider attending all or part of this event.Pitch for the Broadband Conference November 13-14, DuluthPitch to fill out the survey from Connect Minnesota on what broadband activities are happening in your county. Pitch for December update.The task force is looking for formal response and feedback on the ideas that are published. Whether positive, negative, or ideas that have not yet been listed; feedback from this group and others will help direct the task force towards the most effective strategies. 
  • AMC - Governor’s Broadband Task Force Update

    2. 2. Introduction and background One of 15 members of the taskforce representing public and private points of view Rural Started work on rural internet access in 1994! Member of the AMC Futures Task Force Blandin Broadband Strategy Board since 2005 Appointed to task force in 2011 until 2015 2011/2012 Humphrey Public Policy Fellow Represent counties, particularly rural
    3. 3. What is the Job of the Task Force? Assist the State in meeting statutory broadband goals:  Border to border highspeed broadband  Top 5 states for fastest speeds available  Top 5 states for universal access  Rank comparable to top 15 countries for application and use Develop policy recommendations that promote universal cell-phone coverage.
    4. 4. Work to-date by current Task Force Getting organized – Working groups include:  Meetings and Outreach  Coordination Across Government Levels  Best Practices and Incentives  State of Broadband – Survey, Research, Data  Monitor/Understand FCC & PUC Decisions ; Cost of Broadband  Mobile issues Reviewing research from previous task forces Monitor and research what is happening nationally Laying the ground work for policy and action work in 2013
    5. 5. Status Report & Policy Recommendations Review ROW/Permitting mindsets at state, county, and municipality levels for opportunities to entice service into unserved areas. Applications and Use of Broadband – How are we leveraging the broadband we already have? Digital Literacy and Accessibility –How are we closing the gaps? Incentives
    6. 6. Incentives Funding for public schools and libraries for computers and internet access. Scholarships for broadband to students who meet federal poverty guidelines Redefine existing Education Tax Credit to include broadband services Tax credits or grants to providers for building to unserved areas. Sales tax exemptions for equipment and cable for broadband deployments. Coordinate highway construction projects and the installation of conduit to save on costs of building back-haul to unserved areas. Build a database that allows those constructing broadband lines to know when other projects are being done and facilitate shared construction costs. Provide incentives for rural telehealth collaborations. Distribution of free or discounted computers to disadvantaged K-12 students. Support digital literacy programs.
    7. 7. Coverage Map
    8. 8. What is the view from where you sit? Are you one of the counties identified as least served? Are you doing something about it? Are you one of the 63 counties where less than 50% of your households do not have access to service at a level necessary to run the next generation of health, education, and government services? Do you feel you have what you need to advocate for your community? Where are your gaps? What could the task force or others do to support the counties?
    9. 9. For more information Opportunities to learn more and provide input:  State Broadband Conference – Nov. 13-14, Duluth  Blandin Community Broadband Program – Up to $100,000 in support for community broadband activities.  Sessions at December annual conference  Check the Connect Minnesota maps at for your county. Do you agree with their assessment?  Have you responded to the Task Force/Connect Minnesota county broadband survey ? (I have copies)  Provide formal feedback on the task force publications.
    10. 10. Closing Thank you!For more information, contact:Danna MacKenzie, IT Director, Cook