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Nebraska Information Technology Commission
April 7, 2000, 1:30 p.m.



Grand Island Video Conference Site:  Gary Warren
Kearney Video Conference Site:  Donna Hammack, Jeanne Saathoff
Lincoln Video Conference Site:  Craig Schroeder, Anne Boyle and Gene Hand (alternate), Stu Miller
Norfolk Video Conference Site:  Len Benson, Michael Nolan, Ted Smith
North Platte Video Conference Site:  Gerry Kluch
Omaha Video Conference Site:  Reba Benschoter, Ron Heezen, Ann Stephens, Bob Sweeney


Tyler French, Lance Hedquist, Jim Lowe, Rick Nolan, Russ Pankonin, Ted Schultz, Clyde Tyndall
OTHERS PRESENT:  Jim McKenzie (Norfolk Site), Max Thacker (Omaha Site), Lincoln Site: Michael Winkle, Kit Keller, Tom Rolfes, Lori Lopez Urdiales


Co-chair, Craig Schroeder called the meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. Roll call was taken. Seven members were present at the time of roll call: Benschoter, Hammack, Kluch, Miller, Saathoff, Schroeder, Smith, and Benson. A quorum was not present. Business items of the agenda were tabled until more members arrived to the meeting.

PUBLIC COMMENT:  There was no public comment.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION UPDATE --Gene Hand, Director, Communications Department

Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services
Mr. Hand briefed the Council on the upcoming Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Service Midwestern Regional Field Hearing, April 19th at the Marina Inn in South Sioux City. A large attendance is expected. Senator Robert Kerrey will be in attendance, as well as the FCC Chair, William Kennard. The hearing will be conducted from 1-5 p.m. There will be three panels: Broadband, Wireless and Tele-Medicine. The Lieutenant Governor is a member of the Broadband panel. Ms. Hammack and Dr. Benschoter are members of the Tele-medicine Panel. Wednesday morning, there will be a demonstration of South Sioux City's paperless city council.  Thursday morning there are tours scheduled to broadband sites: Hawarden and Orange City, Iowa. There will be a report upon completion of all of the field hearings will be publicly available on the FCC website. Members were encouraged to submit registrations as soon as possible. The FCC is currently collecting data from service providers on broadband deployment. Additional information on the joint conference and field hearing is available at   Mr. Hand's email address is:

US West and LATA's
The LATA's were developed as a geographic separation between the Baby Bells.  Under 271 filings, RBOC's are required to meet a fourteen point checklist to obtain relief from the LATA restrictions. Six of these points are dependent upon Operational Support Systems (OSS). Legacy systems can cause OSS problems. Inter-lata relief is needed for reduce pricing for voice and data. Nebraska could be one of the first states to submit a filing to the FCC.  Later this month, interviews of bidders to conduct the OSS tests should be complete. Selection to be done shortly thereafter with testing to begin midsummer. Mr. Hand entertained questions from the members.  Mr. Hand encouraged members to visit the Governing Magazine website There is an article in the Sourcebook 2000 that looks at I.T. and I.T. spending per states.

By the completion of Mr. Hand's report, the following members had arrived: Boyle, Heezen, Nolan, Stephens, Sweeney, and Warren. A quorum was present.

Universal Service Fund--Jeff Pursley, Director, Universal Service Department, Public Service Commission
Since September 1st, the office has been engaged in a rebalancing process, looking at local rates and subsidies for the end of the first year. There will be a hearing on May 31st to examine level of funding for the upcoming year. The industry response to possibly expanding the definition to included 56k modems was a resounding "No". There is a need to address fiber optic capabilities in rural communities, but addressing this issue through the state Universal Service Fund would require tripling the amount now collected.   Total amount collected annually is $50 million through a surcharge of 7 percent on telecommunications charges.  Lack of federal funding is a huge issue for Nebraska. Mr. Pursley entertained questions from the members.

WIRELESS STUDY AND TINA (Telecommunications Infrastructure Needs Assessment) Study
Brenda Decker, Director, Division of Communications, State of Nebraska

Wireless Study - LB 446 authorized the Division of Communication $600,000 to conduct a study on wireless public safety communications issues. Interoperability and coverage areas emerged as the primary issues.   Federal Engineering is the consultant hired for the study. The consultants have been in 15 locations across the state. The project is almost 25% completed. Federal Engineering will make recommendations, as well as provide cost estimates and an analysis.  Some of their fears are as follows:  1) The State will come in and tell them to start over without being able to afford it;  2) The state patrol is going to dictate what we're going to have; 3) And we've heard this before and nothing is going to happened. The Division of Communications is taking concerns and fears seriously. There is a Wireless Advisory Committee, made up of several law enforcement sectors and state agencies, appointed by the governor that is assisting with the project. The Division of Communications web site,, has updated information on the Wireless Study.

TINA (Telecommunications Infrastructure Needs Assessment) Study - Ms. Decker informed the Council that the NITC at their November 1998 meeting recommended that such as study be conducted for the state of Nebraska. Federal Engineering is the consultant. The project began in August 1999. Several surveys and interview have been done. The following themes have emerged:

  • Affordable, wideband Internet access must be made available in rural Nebraska.
  • Greater bandwidth will be needed to satisfy the applications planned for the next five years.
  • Basic technical training is needed at all levels on telecommunication systems and features.
  • The LATA boundary is a burdensome and artificially imposed cost barrier in Nebraska and must be eliminated.
  • The state should enable the local exchange carriers to provide affordable wideband services for rural Nebraska.

Ms. Decker reviewed the guidelines for network design. Federal Engineering has recommended the following alternatives:

  • Alternative 1 - Maintain the status quo.
  • Alternative 2 - Expand baseline with Extended SONET Network Telecomm Infrastructure Plan.
  • Alternative 3 - Aggregate demand through a prime contractor with postalized services telecom infrastructure

The Tina Advisory Committee,  which is comprised of representatives from state agencies, higher education, and k-12 representatives, has recommended ation is to go with Alternative 3. Ms. Decker explained that a prime contractor is not a sole source provider. The state would contract with a group. That group would contract independently with providers. Councils can on a voluntary basis endorse the TINA Advisory Committee's recommendation. The next steps would depend upon the NITC's endorsement of Alternative 3:   Aggregate demand through a prime contractor with postalized servcies telecom infrastructure.  If the NITC endorses the plan, each of the councils will need to select two representatives to serve on the TINA Technical Advisory group. Mr. Nolan moved that the Council support the implementation of Alternative 3.   Mr. Kluch seconded the motion. Roll call vote: Benschoter-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Heezen-Yes, Kluch-Yes, Miller, Yes, Nolan-Yes, Saathofff-Yes, Schroeder-Yes, Smith-Yes, Stephens-Yes, Sweeney-Yes, Warren-Yes, and Benson-Yes. Motion carried.

Anne Byers, Community Information Technology Manager

Ms. Byers provided a summary of the projects submitted for funding.  The top six applications were:

  • ONE Library submitted by the Norfolk Public Library, Columbus Public Library, and NECC Library
  • Public Internet Access Enhancement submitted by the City of Kearney
  • Public Library System Web Catalog submitted by the Public Library System, Holdrege
  • Nebraska E-Business Project submitted by the Rural Development Commission and the AIM Institute
  • Web-Parent Teacher Project submitted by Elmwood-Murdock Public Schools
  • OmahaTribe.Com submitted by the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska

A couple of reviews were received after the rankings were distributed to Council members.   The following scores have been updated:   One Library, Norfolk (68); Public Library Catalog, Holdrege (62); (58); Technical Upgrade for City Hall, Elkhorn (46); and the Dakota City Library Software (40). Ms. Byers thanked everyone who served as a reviewer.  The applicants of two e-commerce training projects have  been asked to collaborate their efforts into one grant. The Council was asked if there were other projects that were potentially duplicative and could explore forming a collaborative effort.  Ms. Stephens suggested that the Loup County and Burwell projects may be a possibility. Mr. Winkle stated that the NITC will look at duplication, outcomes, goals as they pertain to the NITC goals, and the community's commitment to sustain the project after funding in reviewing grants.

Mr. Sweeney left the meeting.

Dr. Heezen moved that the Community Council recommend funding the top six projects which totaled approximately $150,000.  Dr. Benschoter seconded the motion. Roll call vote: Benson-Yes, Warren-Yes, Stephens-Yes, Smith-Abstained, Schroeder-Yes, Saathoff-Abstained, Nolan-Abstained, Miller-Yes, Kluch-Abstained, Heezen-Yes, Hammack-Yes, Benschoter-Yes. Motion was carried by majority vote.

NIDCAC ACTION PLAN ITEMS --Ron Bowmaster, Intergovernmental Data Services

NIDCAC (Nebraska Intergovernmental Data Communications Advisory Council) is composed of state and local public officials. The organization's statutory  charge is to identify opportunities to eliminate duplication and promote the exchange of information between state agencies, state and local governments, and between local governments. By joint resolution of NIDCAC and the Community Council, NIDCAC undertook and completed a study on January 4, 2000. The report and recommendations of the Local Government Technology Project is available through the IDSD/NIDCAC web site: The purpose of the study was to develop issues and recommendations relating to local community application and technology requirements. NIDCAC is scheduled to meet on April 21st to develop its recommendations for projects for the upcoming year. NIDCAC intends to seek the support, guidance, and participation of the members of the Community Council. For more a more detailed summary of Mr. Bowmaster's presentation: NIDCAC Report to Community Council (PDF 12k). For the full Local Government Technology Project Report and Recommendations Draft: NIDCAC Local Government Technology Project.

NEW BUSINESS: There was no new business.


The May 5th meeting will be in Aurora. Mr. Warren will provide tours beginning at 11 a.m. with lunch at noon. More details to come later. The June 2nd meeting location will be in Lincoln.

Mr. Kluch moved to adjourn. Dr. Benschoter seconded the motion. All were in favor. Motion carried. It was pointed out that the minutes to last month's meeting had not been approved.

Mr. Kluch moved to reopen the meeting. Dr. Benschoter seconded the motion. All were in favor. Motion was carried by voice vote.

Ms. Stephens stated that the acronym for the Community Development Block Grants was inconsistent and needed to be corrected. Dr. Heezen moved to approve the minutes with the stated correction. Dr. Benschoter seconded the motion. All were in favor. Motion was carried by voice vote.

Mr. Kluch moved to adjourn the meeting. Dr. Benschoter seconded the motion. All were in favor. Motion was carried by voice vote.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:05 p.m.

Meeting Minutes