How we win on municipal broadband

If you are passionate about the broadband issue / Charter Monopoly, I invite you to the Rochester City Council Committee Meeting on Monday August 17, 2015 at 3:30 in Room 104 at the government center.  It is a fairly small room so come early to get a seat as I hope supporters of municipal broadband take the time to attend. The facts and the public are clearly in favor of taking steps to crack the Charter monopoly. Remember, because of changing technology broadband will be able to supplant subscription TV in very short order. Here are 6 things to know:

  1. On Monday we will be getting an update from Michael Brayen of Alcatel-Lucent with 2 options with which we can proceed: “I think we will be good, I am bringing another partner company with me , and I think we will actually offer 2 alternatives. This second alternative is what I have been working on for months. That is why this has taken so long to come back to the council. I will call you later this week to discuss.”
  2. We need to understand what we want.
    1. What I am interested in is ensuring we own fiber optic cable that can deliver competitive changing technologies through out Rochester at a fair price.
    2. I find it critical that our municipal network can deliver all city services to our people & businesses.
    3. I find it critical that we eliminate the digital divide that makes broadband unaffordable to many school kids & seniors. Unbundled stand alone broadband costs
    4. Our network will need to meet future requirements of RPU, Police & Fire, Library, Schools, and other government functions. Municipal broadband has significant financial benefit to these organizations.
  3. We now have data of where the public stands on municipal broadband, not surprisingly the love it.
    1. 76% of residents and 63% of businesses want RPU to offer broadband internet. RPU to offer broadband internet. With this level of business support, the Chamber of Commerce should abandon it previous opposition to municipal broadband or members should hold them accountable.
    2. In addition 84% of residents want RPU to bury power lines and 82% want smart grid meters. Both of these goals can be met in creating a fiber network in Rochester.
    3. The survey was highly scientific with 1200 responses and a margin of error of 2.7%.
    4. Because of the immense popularity of RPU it is estimated that 30% of the community would immediately switch to RPU for broadband, all things being equal. Since RPU would likely deliver superior service, product, and price that number would likely be higher.
  4. Much of Rochester has such poor technology that we do no meet the Minnesota 2015 Broadband Goals. The upload speeds of 5-10 Mbps can not be achieved in most places by Charter Communications.
  5. The actual definition of broadband is such that most parts of Rochester only have one choice for broadband, Charter Communications. To be meet the definition broadband a service must offer 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. In most places only Charter can do this.
  6. Creating $50 million in infrastructure costs about $3 per month for each of RPU’s 51k customers. The value just for city agencies delivering services probably far exceeds this.

Here is how I will define success:

  • Seniors, working poor, & families with school children gain basic broadband access including some video for less than $20 per month.
  • Families with children eligible for free or reduced lunch have access to broadband services for $10 per month or less.
  • The city has universal coverage capable of 1 Gbps speeds both up and down.
  • The city owns and controls fiber infrastructure in Rochester.
  • The city is able to deliver municipal services via our network.

We can do this!



  1. Thanks, Mike, for sending the info about the broadband meeting Monday. I just asked my councilman, Mark Bilderback, about this and he said the chances were slim to none!!
    He must be resisting this. Where does he stand politically.

  2. Mr. Wojcik
    Sorry I missed the meeting.
    I actually did not see the email until last night.
    I am not sure how much lead time you had but even a week of warning would allow people to put the word out. I am sure we could pack the meeting with people. I realize that it may not always be possible to know that far ahead of time.

    Making it an election issue is a great idea. Everyone can know where their representatives stand.

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