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Broadband’s Last Mile

1/6/2017 2:00:00 PM

The wish list for the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband includes:

  • $100 million in ongoing funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program
  • $10 million in operating funds for the Office of Broadband Development located within DEED.

View the just-released annual report.

In addition to these two recommendations, Gov. Mark Dayton, the Legislature and other policymakers will consider a number of policy recommendations during the 2017 legislative session.

One recommendation is called the “last mile,” referring to the challenges that broadband providers need to overcome to deliver high-speed connectivity across the final leg between the provider’s network and the home or building.

But once the high-speed connection is brought to the outside of a building another problem appears. Many existing buildings do not have proper interior wiring or duct work to enable the high-speed connection to be delivered to the devices that consume it. And this becomes even more of an issue in multi-tenant buildings as more consumers or businesses are affected.

Southern California’s Loma Linda, dubbed a Blue Zone by Minnesota best-selling author and educator Dan Buettner, recognized this problem. The city’s response could be instructional for Minnesota.

In 2004, Loma Linda passed an ordinance mandating that new construction projects install a structured cabling infrastructure to support high-speed connectivity throughout the building. This infrastructure can consist of ductwork and fiber or Category 5/6 copper cabling. Loma Linda found the costs to deploy at construction time ($3,500) were two to three times less expensive than retrofitting. The consumer can get the high-speed connections their providers offer to all of their devices with the interior wiring in place.

The Task Force developed this recommendation: Amend building codes to require that multi-tenant housing units funded with public dollars deploy cabling (such as category 5/6 or multi-mode fiber) that supports easier management of broadband connectivity.

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