Yesterday, via a press release from the Minnesota Department of Economic Department, the Governor's Task Force on Broadband released its annual report, recommending biennial spending of $100 million in ongoing funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grand Development Program and $10 million in operating funds for the Office of Broadband Development.
The office is located within MN DEED.
In a statement issued today, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said:
“Broadband remains a critical tool for building a fair economy that works for all Minnesotans. This report reaffirms that significant, sustained investment is necessary to provide all Minnesotans the affordable, reliable, high-speed internet they require to run businesses, get educations, and access modern medical care. If we don’t make this investment, Minnesota will be divided between those who can access the promise of the 21st century and those who cannot. That is not right."
“Our Administration will propose another robust investment in broadband infrastructure next session. I hope legislators, many of whom ran on a promise to strengthen rural communities, will fulfill this commitment.”
Bluestem's editor's own experience concurs. We moved to a new home in rural Big Stone County where fiber broadband was installed by a local telephone co-op on September 1. Our housemate is a photographer who documents the prairie pothole region's beauty--and arrival of fast upload and download times has been a boon to his ability to market his photos and studio open houses.
It's just an imperative for farmers and rural auto shops, as these businesses require the ability to receive and send data swiftly.
In a press release, MN DEED summarized the report's recommendations:
The recommendations outlined in the report are aimed at ensuring every Minnesotan has access to broadband and the ability to use it. The recommendations include $100 million in ongoing funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Grand Development Program and $10 million in operating funds for the Office of Broadband Development, located within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
“Last year, we made strides with the largest investment in the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program to date, but we know there’s more work to be done to achieve our goal of broadband access for every Minnesotan,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. “Broadband plays a vital role in connecting people to health care, education and the global economy. The recommendations in our report will continue to move us closer to the border-to-border broadband access we need to succeed now and into the future.”
“Our goal is to make high-speed broadband accessible to every home, school, business and community in the state, particularly in Greater Minnesota,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “This is an important tool that will not only improve the quality of life of all Minnesotans, but will be an investment in the future economic development of our state.”
The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, created by the Legislature in 2014 and initially funded at $20 million, 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. . . .
The Task Force recommendation to allocate $10 million in operating funds to the Office of Broadband Development recognizes that specific and targeted policies and programs can effectively aid the adoption of broadband and assist in deployment.
Additional policy recommendations include:
1. Take action to promote and communicate “dig once” policies
2. Establish a legislative cybersecurity commission for the purpose of information sharing, monitoring workforce issues, and supporting and strengthening infrastructure
3. Continue to monitor advancing telecommunications technologies
4. Amend building codes to require that multi-tenant housing units funded with public dollars deploy cabling that supports easier management of broadband connectivity
5. Build computer donation partnerships between state agencies and community-based organizations that get computers into the hands of those who need them
6. Modify the state Telecommunications Assistance Program to better align with the national Lifeline program to subsidize the cost of broadband service for low income households
7. Support continued funding of Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA)
8. Fully fund Telecommunications Access Equity Aid
Here's the full report:
2016 Annual Report Minnesota's Governor’s Task Force on Broadband posted by Sally Jo Sorensen on Scribd
Photo: The view from our kitchen window. All this and fiber broadband too. Photo by Sally Jo Sorensen.
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