Recent reports from Connect Minnesota indicate that broadband adoption is up six percent from last year, a considerable leap from growth in the previous couple of years.
78 percent of Minnesota households subscribe to broadband service, although the news isn’t as good for infrastructure, at least not high end infrastructure.
Research from Broadband Communities Magazine indicates that only 2-3 percent of Minnesota has access to fiber — 20Mbps down & 10Mbps up on average.
That compares with 10 percent in South Dakota, 22 percent in North Dakota and a national average of 8 percent. That is how the broadband industry seemed to sway in March, some good news, some not-to-good news and a lot of waiting on policy.
In the last month, the Blandin on Broadband blog highlighted Minnesota’s Broadband developments:
- In Itasca County, a partnership between a local nonprofit, the school and local broadband provider brought computers and broadband access local Native American student families last year. The free trial ended in January yet only 4 households have dropped their broadband access, which means an 84 percent retention rate.
- The Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested information regarding Lake County’s (ARRA) BIP program funding.
- Mediacom Communications doubles the speeds of its broadband Internet service throughout its Northern Minnesota territory, including some communities in Carlton, Itasca, Lake, Pine and St Louis Counties.
- The Humphrey Institute hosted a lively discussion on policy early in March. On a national level, the USDA is looking at changing the definition of rural, which may have an impact on future broadband funding and incentives.
- Minnesota Telecommunications Regulations Bills (HF 985/SF 584) – The role of the state PUC is expected to diminish considerably by 2019 due to decisions made by the FCC; this bill sets out to transition to that change. The Minnesota Telecom Alliance (MTA) recently hosted a conversation with FCC Commissioner Clyburn, which provided some insights into the FCC’s plans.
- Minnesota Office of Broadband Development Bills (HF1255 / SF1128) – The bill would establish and fund an Office of Broadband Development to help coordinate broadband efforts in the state and create tools to help providers anticipate opportunities through practices such as Dig Once.
- Minnesota E911 fee and the Telecommunication Access Minnesota fee (HF389/SF367)– The bill would extend the E911 fee and the Telecommunication Access Minnesota fee to prepaid wireless customers and establish funding for a broadband development grant program.
- The US Senate approved a bipartisan amendment introduced by Senator Al Franken to promote investment in broadband infrastructure for rural areas. The amendment does not indicate action, but an interest in broadband.
- In March, Senator Amy Klobuchar said she would introduce a bill that would allow for cell phone unlocking.