MHTA – A report by the Governor’s Broadband Task Force concludes Minnesota is not on track to meet the state’s current broadband goals. They were established by the legislature in 2010 and include universal access and high speed deployment to all residents and businesses as soon as possible, but not later than 2015.
“While the Task Force is encouraged to report that progress is being made toward the state’s
broadband goals, we are not on track to meet them by 2015,” Task Force members wrote in their report to Governor Mark Dayton. “The private sector is continuing to expand service and new technology is improving the quality of the service across the state. But without partnership from the public sector, it will be incredibly challenging to ensure that all Minnesotans have access to high-speed broadband.”
The Task Force has 13 members appointed by the governor who represent different areas of the state. It is chaired by Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who is the president and CEO of MHTA.
The report includes several recommendations, including tax credits and grants that would incent Minnesota’s broadband providers to build more connectivity in unserved areas. It also highlights a “dig once” policy aimed at streamlining fiber construction. Other recommendations include scholarships that would provide access to poor students and increased funding for schools and libraries to provide high-speed Internet access.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue has not finalized the cost of all of the recommendations, but the report currently outlines more than $4 million in expenditures for the next budget cycle. The governor will review the recommendations and submit a proposal to the legislature.
Minnesota defines broadband speed at 10 megabits per second download and six megabits per second upload. Current estimates show 62% of Minnesota homes have access to service at those levels. Rural Minnesota continues to have the most significant gaps in service.
The Task Force will continue its work in 2013 with more meetings scheduled around the state. The report outlines opportunities to focus on targeted broadband issues related to access, adoption and use. Members will generate another end-of-the-year report and may also release “White Papers” or other commentary throughout the year.