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Telecommunications Regulation and Infrastructure Division

ELEVENTH MEETING

2007-2008 Regular Session - September 18, 2007

STATE OF MINNESOTA ELEVENTH MEETING
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES EIGHTY-FIFTH SESSION



TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE DIVISION
OF THE
COMMERCE AND LABOR COMMITTEE

MINUTES




Representative Sheldon Johnson, Chair of the Telecommunications Regulation and Infrastructure Division, called the eleventh meeting to order at 11:46 A.M. on September 18, 2007, at the Hubbard County Courthouse in Park Rapids.

Members present:
Johnson, Sheldon, Chair
Masin, Sandra, Vice-Chair
Hilty, Bill
Sailer, Brita
Thissen, Paul

Members excused:
Beard, Michael
Garafalo, Pat
Hoppe, Joe
Juhnke, Al
Morrow, Terry
Shimanski, Ron


Representative Johnson called the meeting to order at 11:46 A.M. Minutes were taken by Elizabeth Emerson.

Members and staff made introductions. Chair Johnson and Representative Sailer provided an introduction to the public.

Dave Collins, Executive Director, Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Authority (HCREDA), presented the division with the importance of broadband and wireless service access to business development and quality of life.

Dallas Locke, resident, Lake of the Woods County, told division members of lack of cell phone coverage around natural areas and of several hunters' deaths that may have been prevented if cell phone service were available.

Molly Luther, Park Rapids, relayed the importance of broadband service availability for her ability to telecommute and relocate to her hometown.

Phil Hodapp and Beryl Weinberg, Beltrami County 911, noted that there is good coverage in the southern portions of Beltrami County but not around Red Lake. They expressed concerns with the availability of quality public safety if it relies on spotty radio service.

Polly Dehnert, Fourtown, presented her concerns for ATV users, hunters and the logging industry. She noted that these individuals were formerly able to use analog service, but now have now service. Her business now serves as a relay station for those needing communication.




Del Holz, Park Rapids, spoke about poor cell phone coverage and spotty, inconsistent landline service.

Bob Bateman, Park Rapids resort owner, expressed concern over forty-year-old landlines. He also noted that he alone paid $600 for Dish service and continues to pay $90/month; this service is more reliable than available landline service.

Becky Walpole, librarian, Kitchigami Public Library, Park Rapids, noted that the library has eight computer terminals with internet access that are occupied from open to close most days with waiting lines during peak times. ACS provides internet service to the library.

Rick DeWinter, Sprint dealer, Park Rapids, wondered why cell phone coverage is so poor. He suspects that it is because there is excessive "red tape" when trying to apply for a cell phone tower. He suggested a streamlining of the process to promote coverage.

Katie Kueber, Two Inlets Mills, Park Rapids, noted that their dial-up service was so poor that she was unable to file the required tax paperwork online. Her business had to invest $800 in internet (satellite) service so that they could file taxes.

Jason Johnson, volunteer rescue, and Brent Haynes, North Memorial, told the division members about the public safety costs of recently passed 800 mHz legislation. Their local area is not able to afford the radios, which costs $2500-$3000/set, as they do not qualify for financial assistance federally or at the state level.

Norm Leistikow, Park Rapids, told the committee that his family resorted to getting Dish service, but feels that the state should be able to help provide better service than that.

Paul Dove, Park Rapids, asked the committee to consider download and upload speeds when looking at internet services. He also noted that it is simply not fair that some folks pay $700/year for internet service.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:04 P.M.



______________________________________
REP. SHELDON JOHNSON, CHAIR





Mary Elizabeth Faust
Committee Legislative Assistant
More Info On This Meeting..

11 a.m.: Private tour of Arvig Communications (ACS), Park Rapids
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: Committee will hear from area businesses, local government officials and individuals; Hubbard Courthouse, Park Rapids.
2 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.: Meeting at Douglas Lodge, Itasca Park to discuss Emergency Management Services, Law Enforcement
4 p.m. - 6 p.m.: Additional public hearing; Clearwater County Courthouse, Bagley
Those interested in testifying should contact Elizabeth Emerson, Committee Administrator, at 651-296-7175 or elizabeth.emerson@house.mn.