Stirring the Pot: Reductions in State Broadband Support

As originally posted in the Blandin on Broadband eNews…

Uncertainty seems to describe the current broadband environment in Minnesota and beyond.  This uncertainty makes it hard for local community broadband initiatives to plan a path forward causing delay and frustration.

Here in Minnesota, we are all awaiting the final passage of the Office of Broadband appropriations for the Border to Border Broadband Program.  When the legislative session started, I was among many who thought that upwards of $100 million would be appropriated for the grant fund to follow up on the original $20 million granted earlier this year.  The $10 million in the appropriation vetoed by the Governor is clearly inadequate to meet the demand of the projects in the pipeline.

At the federal level, we are all waiting for the pending announcements from Frontier, Centurylink and Windstream as to their intentions with CAF2 or Connect America Fund version two.  These larger companies need to declare whether they will take these incentives to improve their networks.  If they reject the subsidies, the FCC will conduct a reverse auction to determine how the subsidies will be allocated possibly opening the funds to a range of prospective competitors.

My advice for communities is to encourage them to keep moving forward with your planning and solutions development. Be prepared for emerging opportunities!

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