Minnesota and National Report

When Xcel Energy goes to the Public Utilities Commission, their rate increases always pass. When Comcast, increases their rates, but fails to adequately provide Universal Broadband service at a reasonable rate, or sets an entry rate and then jerks up the price a short-time later people are getting screwed. When they charge $14.50 for access to local television channels, which are freely available with an antenna, people should question, loudly. Especially, when it is through fiber optic cable the best signals and best capacity can be achieved the citizenry should be calling for local Cooperatives. Its time tot end all franchise agreements with municipalities.

Minnesota is an Agricultural State and rural Coops are part of our legacy. In Southwestern Minnesota, in the late 2000’sa push for rural fiber-optic broadband commenced and RS Fiber (Renville-Sibley) was born. In 1938 Rural Electrification Act, farm communities had to eliminate their DC based electrical system and opt-in for the AC/DC of the electrical grid and lights turned on across America.

There are communities which already do this. Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina have a robust system that can grow with their community and are good models for Minnesota to emulate. It is the freedom of opportunity under a regulatory control for service provisions which can best meet community standards with a locally elected board rather than a corporate board in pursuit of profits which can best meet future needs.

As the implementation of the American Broadband Buildout Act of 2021 occurs, legacy monopolies like Comcast, Century Link, Media One and alike need to be set aside and the legislature and municipalities across the state need to foster locally grown solutions where the industry giant is struck by rocks from many different David’s. There are places close to the Twin Cities like Eagan, where Broadband doesn’t exist because it is too far away from the central line of cable coverage, which has been extended due to financial benefit to the company, not to the community or the consumer. In this case fiber-optic is a far easier distribution and can bring about the actual goal intended with the legislation.

Last week, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced the procurement of significant federal funding for broadband. https://www.smith.senate.gov/klobuchar-smith-secure-significant-federal-funding-to-expand-broadband-access-in-minnesota/

We call, for the Metropolitan Council to be given oversight, and the power to enforce and implement in the 11-County Metropolitan Area a deregulatory effort and a state department be empowered to do so statewide and this for both electricity and broadband services.