The governor’s task force on broadband released its annual report Dec. 27, which includes recommendations for Gov. Mark Dayton, the legislature and other policymakers to consider during the 2017 legislative session.
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 grant development program and $10 million in operating funds for the Office of Broadband Devel-opment, 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 task force. “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 Shawntera Hardy, DEED commissioner. “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 grant program, created by the legislature in 2014 and initially funded at $20 million, provides funding to build the state’s broadband infrastructure and promotes 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. Minnesota’s universal broadband access and speed goals, updated in the 2016 legislative session, specify that 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 three megabits per second by 2022.
These speeds are in alignment with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) definition of high-speed broadband.
By 2026, the recently adopted state speed goals provide 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 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.
Find more information about the report on the DEED Web site at www.mn.gov/deed.
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