A current Task Force appointed to make policy recommendations to Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton was charged with developing, implementing, and promoting state policy. Also, the Task Force will develop initiatives on how to remove barriers to broadband deployment and also how to modernize the State’s telecommunications regulatory framework.
The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Annual Report for 2017, released January 3, 2018 contains recommendations for policy makers and stakeholders to consider in the 2018 legislative session.
The Task Force has consistently recommended funding Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. The Task Force recommends providing $71,482,000 in on-going biennial funding or $35,741,000 in annual funding until the State achieves their broadband speed goals.
The Grant program was created by the legislature in 2014 and initially funded at $20 million to provide funding to build the state’s broadband infrastructure and to promote broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of the state.
While many Minnesotans already are connected to broadband, 12.06 percent of Minnesota households lack access to broadband at the state’s speed goals of at least 25 megabits per second download and 3Mbps upload.
The funds will be used to provide broadband internet speeds at 25Mbps/Mbps to the 252,000 household that currently lack this service. This will help the State achieve broadband speed to connect all Minnesotans with broadband internet at speeds of 25Mbps/3 Mbps by 2022.
The Task Force also recommends providing the Office of Broadband Development (OBD) https://www.mn.gov/deed/programs-services/braodband with $500,000 on-going biennial funding and funds to maintain the existing partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, until the state achieves its broadband speed goals.
OBD in November 2017, announced $26.47 million in funding for 39 projects across the state which could bring broadband service to 9,973 households, 2,169 businesses, and 60 community institutions in the State.
OBD administers the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program and is tasked with other responsibilities, such as monitoring broadband development in other states and also other nations. Other funding responsibilities include educating businesses, promoting public safety, health, and innovations, plus working to expand markets for Minnesota businesses.
The deployment of broadband technologies continues to expand in healthcare as in other areas. For example, broadband technologies are being used in combating the current opioid crisis in the State. Currently, Essentia Health in Duluth is using broadband to supplement in-person patient visits with remote teleconference visits with clinical pharmacists in order to taper opioid dosing.
To address security, Minnesota’s IT Service’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan will work to improve security engineering when building systems by securing the data centers and networks they run. In addition, the State is working on developing risk management and training programs to stress security awareness.
Go to https://www.mn.gov/deed/assets/2017-bbtf-annual-report_tcm1045-323417.pdf to view the Governor’s Task force on Broadband 2017 report.
For a list of Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program recipients, go to https://www.mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program.