Koochiching County Broadband Profile: current ranking 28

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year.

Koochiching County slipped from 27 to 28 but they have seen improvement. The good news is that the broadband they have is good; the bad news is that they need more of it.

MinnPost had an article on population loss in the county; telling the story of one resident who was able to make it work because of an internet connection…

With the help of the Internet, Conat has grown the company from a small storefront in International Falls to a manufacturing facility in nearby Ranier with several full-time employees in the last half-decade.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 68.60 73.50
100/20 68.55 73.44

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 28

Kittson County Broadband Profile: current ranking 30

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year.

Kittson County has bumped up from ranking 82 to 30. In 2016, Wikstrom Telephone received $950,823 to serve 236 unserved households and 26 unserved businesses in sparsely populated areas of Kittson, Marshall, Roseau and Lake of the Woods counties. That must have had some impact.

And Wikstrom received another grant at the end of 2017…

Wikstrom Telephone, Wiktel NW MN Broadband – $1,307,785. This project will serve rural sparsely populated areas in Kittson, Marshall, and Roseau counties in far northwestern Minnesota, passing 300 unserved homes and 31 unserved business locations. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Wikstrom will improve broadband services levels to 1 Gbps down and up, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal, on a fiber optic network, and in some locations will extend the service from routes built via the 2016 Border to Border State Grant program.

Senator Johnson celebrates the state’s investment in the area.

AT&T has talked about upgrades they have made in the last five yearsAlthough that might not have a big impact on 100/20 coverage.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 65.62 71.38
100/20 3.46 71.38

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 30

Kandiyohi County Broadband Profile: current ranking 86

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year.

Kandiyohi has slipped from 79 to 86. They are in a tough position. They have been working on better broadband for years.

Last year, Consolidated Telecommunications Co. (CTC) was awarded a $4.94 million grant to improve serves in New London, Spicer and Willmar and Frontier was awarded a grant of $1.02 million to improve service in rural Kandiyohi County.

Unfortunately, the CTC project did not work out.

The County was going to match the grant with tax abatement bonds. Proceeds from the bonds ($5 million) would be loaned to CTC for the project. The debt would be paid from tax abatement revenues and property taxes which will be reduced or cancelled by the loan payments from CTC.  The loan would be paid back fully by CTC with no impact to the tax base in Kandiyohi County.  The project started with a series of open house meetings in the communities in the proposed service areas. The goal was to get people to sign up for service and pay $25 down payment to show their commitment to taking services.

Getting residents to sign up in advance was key to CTC moving forward.  This become key because the financials substantially changed from the time of the grant application submission to the project buildout timeline.  Interest rate increases drove up the cost of debt CTC would be incurring substantially.  Despite encouragement from several sources – including Representative Baker – they did not get as many signed up as CTC needed to move forward.

One issue – CTC was looking for 50 percent of the residents to sign up and pay a deposit to move forward. What happened? More than 50% of the people in the project area signed up and more than 44% had sent in the $25 deposit at the time that CTC pulled the project.

LTD Broadband has been working to fill the gaps. They started building broadcast tower sites across the county summer 2017. And continued the expansion summer 2018, LTD Broadband recently expanded wireless service to the lakes area of Kandiyohi County with the installation of LTE equipment on water towers in Spicer, on Green Lake, in New London and a tower site by Long Lake.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 77.25 77.20
100/20 8.14 10.64

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 86

Kanabec County Broadband Profile: current ranking 67

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year.

Kanabec County ranking has improved from 68 to 67. The have actually seen  an increase coverage but they are not keeping up with the rest of the state.

Kanabec has been a Blandin Broadband Community. There is a Kanabec Broadband Initiative. They have been part of the East Central Regional Broadband Group.

At the end of 2017, CenturyLInk announced upgrades in Kanabec County…

Rural residents that have struggled to find ways to access the internet from their homes may be in luck as Century Link is expanding services to include an additional 1,400 homes in the Braham area, and 3,000 homes in the Mora area.

But these is some concern that the upgrades will not be sufficient…

“This is a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go,” he said. Jelsing explained that even though Century Link advertises speeds of at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, actual speeds tend to vary. For Jelsing, he had hoped upload speeds would be considered equally as important as download speeds. While download speeds help consumers who are interested in streaming video, upload speeds are essential for supporting local businesses that need to send data —not just receive it.

While 10 Mbps bandwidth will be a huge improvement for those with no wired internet options, it’s still below the FCC’s definition of broadband which is 25Mbps download / 3Mbps upload.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 34.04 67.07
100/20 26.07 38.54

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 67

Jackson County Broadband Profile: current ranking 33

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year.

Jackson County broadband ranking has slipped from 26 to 33. They have been hovering at about 69 percent coverage for at least three years now. Three years ago that coverage was enough to make a community (or provider) complacent but as the numbers, indicate they are slipping.

But they have been having discussions; Senator Klobuchar came to Jackson County in last 2017; broadband was a hot topic for the crowd.

AT&T announced upgrades in the area with 26 individual network updates to cell towers on its 4G LTE network in 25 southwest Minnesota communities.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 68.90 68.83
100/20 68.90 68.79

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 33

Itasca County Broadband Profile: current ranking 23

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year.

Itasca’s broadband ranking has slipped from 21 to 23. Itasca has seen increases in access over the last few years and the improvement continues. In November (2017), Paul Bunyan was awarded Minnesota Broadband Grant for portions of Itasca County, St. Louis County, and Hubbard County. That will help.

They did have Senator Smith come to talk about broadband back in March (2018).

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 78.92 86.15
100/20 76.35 79.44

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 23

Isanti County Broadband Profile: current ranking 45

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year.

Isanti County has slipped from 43 to 45. But they have seen improvement in access to 100/200 speeds. In February 2018, they release a survey of public opinion of local broadband…

  • Eighty-eight percent of residents say they need better Internet-data service, 92 percent said Internet access is very important and 1 percent said it is not important.
  • Eighty-three percent of businesses say they need better Internet-data service and 95 percent said the Internet is essential to their business.
  • Sixty-six percent of businesses said limited Internet access at employees’ residences impacts their business.
  • Twenty-four percent of businesses said Internet service options impact their business’ decision to relocate or stay in the county.

The survey was also discussed at the East Central RDC broadband roundtable about the same time (Feb 2018).

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 53.52 73.67
100/20 49.29 56.62

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 45

  • Find more articles on broadband in Isanti County. (http://tinyurl.com/gozt2ka)   
  • Districts: CD 8
    Senate: 31 & 32
    House: 31A, 32A