There were two major events that helped spur an increased interest broadband in November: Blandin Foundation and Connect Minnesota hosted the annual Minnesota broadband conference (Building our Connected Future: Minnesota’s Better with Broadband) in Duluth and the Minnesota Broadband Task Force met twice to finalize their 2012 recommendations to the Governor on steps to take to improve broadband expansion in Minnesota.
In the last month, the Blandin on Broadband blog highlighted several stories related to the conference, the Task Force and other efforts to improve broadband in various areas:
Minnesota Broadband Task Force: The Task Force met twice in November. Their regularly scheduled meeting coincided with the broadband conference, which provided an opportunity to hear from several members of the public. They met again last week to select the policy recommendations to include in the Task Force report expected in early December. Below is the original list of recommendations and notes on Task Force’s current interest in highlighting that recommendation in the 2012 report:
- Increase funding to public libraries and schools (still interested)
- Scholarship dollars to students to tutor for broadband funding (not interested)
- Expand education credit to pay for broadband (not interested)
- Tax credits for broadband providers to go to unserved areas (still interested)
- Sales tax credit for fiber/broadband equipment (still interested)
- Coordinate rural broadband installation with state and federal programs assisting hospitals, libraries et al (not interested)
- Dig once proposal – but question, do we need staff coordinator (still interested)
- Develop MN fiber database (still interested)
- Incentives for rural sites that collaborate on broadband projects (more interested for 2013)
- Facilitate public/private partnerships for free/discounted computers (not interested in including as recommendation)
- Consider public-private partnerships for funding for tech training, production and adoption (not interested, especially for 2012)
- Establish an ongoing broadband entity (still interested)
Minnesota Broadband Conference: Discussion at the 2012 broadband conference has elevated from asking what broadband is to asking how everyone can get it. Blandin Foundation announced nine rural Minnesota communities selected for intensive, two-year partnerships with the Foundation to advance local broadband initiatives. Business leaders from Digital River, TelemetryWeb and Involta discussed business applications. Connected Nation discussed national policy.
In a conference-wide brainstorm session, attendees fleshed out the broadband topics that were most important to them, including how to get money to deploy broadband, improving business with broadband and workforce development.
- Marketplace Fairness Act – An effort to tax online purchases resurfaces on Cyber Monday. Those opposed wonder if folks will buy online without tax break. With their recent move to online taxing, California will prove a test case this year. http://wp.me/p3if7-21b
- Unlimited means Unlimited – One avid broadband user with a grandfathered “unlimited use” plan from AT&T wins lawsuit against their limiting his download speeds. http://wp.me/p3if7-20L
- Effect of FCC Order on Fiber Deployment – The Minnesota Telecom Alliance asked its membership “Has your company delayed any fiber projects because of the FCC’s Transformation Order? Has your company cancelled any fiber projects because of the FCC’s Transformation Order?” They report that 37 percent of MTA Active Members answered yes to the first question and 21% answered yes to the second question. http://wp.me/p3if7-1YB
- The Price of Patient Privacy – As businesses gain access to medical data (via implants and apps) society should look at the cost and value of private data. http://wp.me/p3if7-21W
Business Use and Deploy Broadband:
- Anoka County: Zayo has completed about 88 percent of construction for the ARRA-funded fiber connecting anchor institutions in Anoka County.
- Dakota and Washington Counties: After several years of planning, a fiber-optic network connection between Washington and Dakota County governments is set to be installed.
- Duluth: Paul Bunyan Communications announced the creation of the Twin Ports Internet Exchange (TP-IX), a free local connection point for Internet related organizations
- Lac qui Parle County: ACS reports that they are 69 percent done with plowing their ARRA-funded fiber through the county.
- Northeast Minnesota: Work has begun on the final few miles of construction needed to link Arrowhead’s fiber network with the Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC).
- Twin Cities: CenturyLink has completed an upgrade of its network and now delivers speeds of 100 Gbps across its backbone and in more than 50 metro locations across the US.