Minnesota is now in poor company, along with several other states that have chosen to use telecom industry-backed Connected Nation (if unfamiliar with CN, read this report) to supply data from Minnesota to the federal government as part of the national broadband map that is being constructed.
Just how this came about explains why a group like Connected Nation thrives in the current telecommunications arena.
Mike O'Connor, the urban users' representative on the Minnesota Governor's Broadband Task Force, explains that the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) chose Connected Nation absent any public discussion or even consultation of the broadband task force.
Mike is not one to mince words about the deal (which got him picked up by MinnPost):
I'm pretty cranky about this process. Nice n'cozy. Nice n'closed. Nice bypass of the Task Force. No public input at all as far as I can see. Looks like there was lots of opportunity for providers to provide input about their confidentiality needs, not too much input about what consumers need. Look forward to more sub-par optimistic maps, and impossible to use/verify data, peepul.
He references the ample opportunity for providers to express their preferences, this comes from the letter from the two commissioners to the governor:
The other primary reason that we are recommending Connected Nation is that in conversations with and letters from the broadband provider community (including the Minnesota Telecom Association, the Minnesota Cable COmmunications Association, Qwest and Comcast), they have noted their satisfaction with the work Connected Nation as done, the professionalism displayed. Most important, the providers have confidence in Connected Nation's ability to protect their sensitive, nonpublic infrastructure information.
The letter goes on to discuss the other possible mapping entity - the University of Minnesota:
First, the University indicates that it has entered into...