Aitkin County Broadband 2014 Update: Ranks last for broadband access

2015 Aitkin & Crow WingIn November, Connect Minnesota released their final report on broadband availability.

There are discrepancies in the mapping. One chart shows percentage of households served at .06%:

Here is how Aitkin County stacks up:

  • Household Density: 3.7
  • Number of Households: 7,299
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): .06%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): .06%

The other chart shows 27.74 percent. (One difference in the two: the first number (.06%) measures 10 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up; the second number (27.74%) measures 10 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up.)

Either way, the results are dismal.

No wonder more than a dozen people, including many providers, came out to hear Senator Matt Schmit talk about broadband and broadband funding in June 2014. At that meeting one of the providers spoke about what would help them build out broadband in areas with lower population density where it’s difficult to create a business case for a commercial provider to offer or upgrade service. (Money is nice but so is streamlining the permitting processes.)

Aitkin County is actively working to pursue better broadband as a partner in the East Central Broadband Initiative. They were part of the East Central Broadband conference in April 2014; the conference is planned primary by community leaders and attended by community leaders, member and providers. One topic that came up was talking about broadband as a utility.

My hope is that these county-specific posts will help policy makers and county residents understand where they stand in terms of broadband access. Assuming it might get forwarded to folks who don’t eat and sleep broadband I wanted to provide a little background on broadband to help set the stage…

How does Minnesota define broadband?

The 2015 broadband goal for Minnesota is ubiquitous access to speeds of 10-20 Mbps (down) and 5-10 Mbps (up). These numbers actually reflect 6-10 Mbps up because Minnesota goals are a little out of synch with standard federal measurements. Connect MN measured access with and without including mobile access as it is often considered a slightly different service, in part because of the data caps involved with wireless services. (Data caps can make wireless an expensive primary broadband connection – especially for a household.)

Learn how the other Minnesota counties rank.

How is Minnesota working to promote border to border broadband?

In 2014, the Legislature approved $20 million for broadband grants to support broadband expansion in Minnesota. You can find a list of applicants online. The hope is the broadband sector is that more funding will be made available in 2015.

This entry was posted in County Profiles (2015), MN, Policy, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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