The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband released its Annual Report today, which includes recommendations for Governor Dayton, the legislature, and other policy makers to consider in the 2018 Legislative Session.
The report contains two recommendations aimed at ensuring every Minnesotan has access to broadband:
- Provide $71.48 million in on-going biennial funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, until the state achieves its broadband goals. This funding amount, which accounts for federal funding through the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF II) and the FCC’s Alternative-Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM), would provide service to the 252,000 Minnesota households that currently lack Internet service at the state’s speed goals of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and minimum upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps.
- Provide the Office of Broadband Development with $500,000 in on-going biennial funding and maintain the existing partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, until the state achieves its broadband speed goals.
“Broadband is more important today than ever before and will play an increasingly important role in the lives of Minnesotans for decades to come,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. “We’ve made significant progress through the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program and the work of Governor Dayton’s task force, connecting more than 34,000 households and 5,000 businesses.”
The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, created by the Legislature in 2014, provides funding to build the state’s broadband infrastructure and promote broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of the state. The grants provide up to a dollar-for-dollar match on funds, not to exceed $5 million for any one project, and are distributed to qualified entities. In its first four years, the program leveraged $110 million in matching local and/or private investments, making service available to more than 34,000 households and 5,200 businesses across Minnesota.
Demand for the grant program continues to outpace its funding. The Office of Broadband Development received 70 grant applications, with requests totaling more than $50 million, all competing for the $20 million in funding allocated by the Legislature in 2017.
“Expanding access to broadband has not and should not become a partisan issue. All Minnesotans need access to broadband,” added Jody Reisch, Rock County Commissioner. “These recommendations will continue to increase access and help our state reach its goal of border-to-border broadband.”
Minnesota’s universal broadband access and speed goals, originally established in 2010 and updated in 2016, specify that by “no later than 2022, all businesses and homes should have access to high-speed broadband services at a download speed of at least 25 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of at least 3 megabits per second,” and that by “no later than 2026, that all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.”
As reported by Connected Nation in October 2017, 88.11 percent of Minnesota households have wireline broadband access available at a speed of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload (25 Mbps/3 Mbps), while 73.45 percent of rural Minnesota households have a wired broadband connection that meets these speeds. 70 percent of Minnesota households have wireline speeds of 100 Mbps/20 Mbps. In rural areas of Minnesota, 52.88 percent of households have access to these speeds. As Minnesota strives to meet its updated broadband speed goals, much work remains.
The full report can be found here.
About the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, which is made up of 15 members representing a variety of backgrounds, is charged with developing, implementing and promoting state policy, planning and initiatives to achieve state broadband needs and goals. The Task Force continues to monitor advances in broadband applications and delivery technology, and will update its recommendations accordingly.