PAUL — The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband released its final Annual Report today, which includes recommendations for Governor Dayton, the legislature, and other policy makers to consider in the 2019 Legislative Session.

The report contains eight recommendations aimed at ensuring every Minnesotan has access to broadband: 

  • Fund the Office of Broadband Development through the base budget at levels sufficient for it to meet its statutory mandates and create an OBD operating fund to advance and promote programs and projects to improve broadband adoption and use, and the maintain existing partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
  • Provide on-going biennial funding of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program at $69.7 million per biennia until the state achieves its broadband speed goals.
  • Provide direct funding to the Department of Employment and Economic Development for broadband mapping.
  • Establish a legislative cybersecurity commission to enable information-sharing between policy-makers, state agencies, and private industry related to Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, cybersecurity workforce issues and emerging technology, whose scope of work includes: (a) developing legislation to support and strengthen Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, and (b) providing input or recommendations related to developing a multi-year strategic plan to secure Minnesota’s IT environments.
  • Continue to understand the advances in technology that will drive both the demand for better broadband access and that will enable the delivery of broadband access to its citizens.
  • Take action to promote and communicate dig once policies, including development and dissemination of best practices and model policies to state agencies and other stakeholders. Ensure that agencies with construction oversight, construction funding, and land stewardship responsibilities ensure that they lead by example in implementing “Dig Once” policies which encourage broadband competition and deployment, including planning, joint use, construction and notification.
  • Fully fund the Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA) to facilitate broadband in K-12 education and libraries.
  • Continue a Minnesota Broadband Task Force as a resource to the Governor and the Legislature on broadband policy with a broad representation of perspectives and experiences, including provider, community, business and labor interests.

“Over the last seven years Minnesota has made great progress on connecting more households and businesses with broadband,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, chair of the Task Force. “We hope to make additional progress, and need continued, ongoing investment in the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program and reliable, consistent funding for the Office of Broadband Development. I hope these are priorities for our next governor.”

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. Since 2014, the program leveraged $110.6 million in matching local and/or private investments, making service available to more than 34,000 households and 5,200 businesses across Minnesota.

“The work of this Task Force has helped shape the debate about broadband policy in Minnesota,” said Don Niles, representing the City of Wadena on the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. “As we release our final report and list of recommendations, we encourage the continuation of a Minnesota Broadband Task Force as a resource to the next Governor and Legislature on broadband policy.”

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.”

The share of Minnesota households with access to wireline broadband at the state speed goal of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload (25 Mbps/3 Mbps) has increased from 69.64 percent in 2011 to 90.77 percent in March 2018. Nearly 75 percent (73.66 percent) of Minnesota households now have access to wireline at the 2026 speed goal of 100 Mbps/20 Mbps.

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.