The inside story on Minnetrista local issues: This blog is to inform citizens and give them a perspective on matters of importance in Minnetrista, MN. Opinions posted here are my own and do not reflect official positions of any public body or official.
One of the broadband consultants I’ve been meeting with informed me of some GREAT news for Minnetrista today! I just checked and it’s available where I live and likely may be at your residence too.
No more slow DSL or cap-throttled satellite connections. From PC Magazine’s article Verizon Launches Unlimited 4G Home Internet for Rural Users: “Last week Verizon launched its own option across the US, and its prospect is more compelling because it’s much more widely available. Verizon’s rural home LTE is trulyunlimited, with speeds averaging 25Mbps, the carrier said. It costs $40/month for people with Verizon Wireless service, and $60/month for people without. You need to buy a $240 router.”
I have been a strong voice on the city council trying to bring attention to the dismal state of high speed internet access in Minnetrista. I asked for it to be added as a goal in the city’s strategic plan many years ago but absolutely nothing of any substance has been done.
In examining Mediacom’s non-exclusive contract with the city it was brought to my attention that Mediacom had agreed to extend it’s system by January 2019 to the Phase 2 map below:
Please don’t call city hall if you live in the Phase 2 circle, like I do, and don’t have service. Mediacom has not extended its system where contractually obligated and the city needs to hold them accountable with fines until they do. Those fines should have started in January 2019. If they had we likely would have service to these areas by now.
A special shout out to Mr. Reinholdz, a resident who spoke at our council meeting “Persons to be heard” session last Monday night. He had some great insights into this issue.
Over the last few weeks I’ve met with several broadband professionals in both Minnetrista and other parts of the twin cities to discuss how we can make reliable high speed internet available to everyone in Minnetrista.
It starts with engaging the right people that understand this rapidly changing technology and the political landscape where it is deployed. I am meeting with and interviewing individuals to establish, once elected Mayor, a Minnetrista broadband working group that will help us navigate the technological, legal and logistical challenges ahead. I am more confident than ever this is not an insurmountable challenge if the right stakeholders are at the table.
I have been an advocate since I’ve been on the city council to establish an advisory body on high speed internet. I was the council member to first suggest putting high speed internet access for Minnetrista as a strategic goal several years ago. At our strategy meeting last spring I pushed to change our stated objective from a passive statement of merely acknowledging the goal to proactively getting creative about solving the issue. But one council member has no authority on their own.
I’ve worked in technology companies my entire career and also understand the political landscape in which we work. Putting solutions together requires bringing the right players to the table and I am meeting, not only with industry professionals but also with other elected officials in nearby cities and counties to do just that.
Minnetrista needs a champion on this issue with a determination to make it happen.
I met with a new internet service provider (ISP) that had recently contacted the city of Minnetrista about providing services here and learned a lot about how the city could remove obstacles preventing new service providers from entering the Minnetrista market.
Did you know that in order for a new service provider to mount an antennae on top of one of the city’s water towers it costs $40,000? That may not be a lot of money for Verizon or T-Mobile but for new providers entering the market it can be prohibitive.
In addition to leasing the space on the water tower there are engineering fees and application fees for each repeater and small cell tower location, which could be on an existing telephone pole or a new pole, provided by the ISP or possibly the city.
Assuming the city would need more than just existing telephone poles to accommodate the bandwidth required to reach all residents, the question of who builds out the infrastructure for the grid needs to be answered. Do we let companies put up their own or does the city plan out the grid and lease access to providers?
If the goal is to create a robust, competitive marketplace for high speed internet then the decisions we make must focus on encouraging competition and limiting barriers to the Minnetrista market. Some of the ways we can do that include:
Waive the city’s solicitation fees for new ISPs coming to the area so they can sign up new customers
Simplify the permitting process
Allow one application to cover multiple locations if technology is identical instead of an application for each repeater/ small cell tower location
Provide ease of access to the city’s right-of-way (ROW)
Waive engineering fees unless the city incurs a cost
Set infrastructure leasing costs for providers to reflect the actual costs incurred by the city to provide and manage that access.
I noticed our current mayor added the following to her reelection campaign “Roadmap” on her website yesterday: “Support a feasibility study of internet connectivity for all of Minnetrista.” Internet connectivity is not the problem, Mayor Whalen. Everyone has connectivity. The problem is it is slow, unreliable, customer service is horrible and there is no competition. The mayor doesn’t get it.
We need an ordinance dealing with these small cell wireless issues so that providers see Minnetrista as a viable market opportunity and the city doesn’t see them as just another revenue stream.
Stay tuned for an announcement of a Zoom meeting with some broadband industry professionals from our area.
Ask anyone who runs a business in Minnetrista about high speed internet and you’ll hear things like “I never would’ve moved here had I known how awful the internet service was!” and “I moved here from a much smaller town where we had excellent high speed internet. Why can’t Minnetrista figure this out?” or “My kids have to go to the coffee shop to do their online homework because our service is so unreliable.” Sound familiar?
I was successful getting “High Speed Internet” added to the city’s goals at it’s strategy session lasts year and then modified last March to “proactively” get creative about it. We even scheduled a work session on “Technology Issues” last June but it was postponed. I sent an email to our City Administrator two weeks ago asking for a date certain when it would be rescheduled and still have not received an answer.
High speed internet issues in Minnetrista are not unresolvable. It requires a mayor, council and staff to make it a priority. We need to take a good, hard look at our legal agreements with service providers, at our fee structures and regulatory policies to make sure we are doing EVERYTHING possible to encourage bringing competitive services to Minnetrista.
It starts with making it a priority. Reliable high speed internet for ALL of Minnetrista is not just possible it is imperative.