Blandin Broadband e-News January 2015: County to County Views of MN Broadband

MN_Statewide_Broadband10M6MNews from the Blandin on Broadband Blog

Minnesota Broadband Coverage Differs Greatly by County

The 2015 broadband goal for Minnesota is ubiquitous access to speeds of 10-20 Mbps (down) and 5-10 Mbps (up). Connect Minnesota surveys indicate that almost 90 percent of the households in Minnesota have access to those speeds – but on a county-to-county basis the coverage differs greater from .06 percent (Aitkin County) to 100 percent (Hennepin and Ramey Counties) coverage.

Minnesota Broadband Task Force to Ask for $200 Million

The Task Force met in December to hammer out details in their upcoming annual report on the state of broadband. They will be asking the Legislature for $200 Million for the Broadband Development Fund. They also discussed the need to redefine broadband goals, since the state will not meet the current goal of border to border broadband in 2015.

Broadband Expected to be Hot Legislative Topic

  • The Star Tribune makes the correlation between a Republican House, their support from rural areas and a desire to reward that rural support with $200 million for broadband.
  • BringMeTheNews reports that Governor Dayton wants to see some of the $1 billion surplus go to support rural broadband.
  • The Grand Forks Forum outlines reactions from specific legislators on broadband in the areas they represent.
  • The Association of Minnesota Counties has outlined their broadband platform

 Reduce Rates by 15 Percent to Entice Adoption

A recent Pew survey indicates that to achieve a 10 percent increase in the share of Americans who are connected to broadband, the price of Internet would have to drop by 15 percent from what it would currently cost them.

Broadband News Around Minnesota

Aitkin County
Depending on how you measure broadband, Aitkin County is the least served county in Minnesota.

Anoka County
Anoka County is poised to meet the 2015 speed goals set out by the Legislature in 2010.

Becker County
Less than 60 percent of Becker County residents have access to broadband at speeds of 10-20 Mbps down and 5-10 Mbps up.

Beltrami County
Almost 99 percent of Beltrami County has access to broadband, reaching the last percent will be tough but with supportive providers, they are poised to make it.

Benton County
Without mobile access broadband reaches only 63 percent of the households in Benton County, with it it’s 93 percent.

Lake County
Lake County applied for funding from the FCC for the Rural Broadband Experiments and has made the provisional short list.

US Internet is upgrading broadband services from 1 gigabit access to 10 gigabit access. They currently serve 30,000 households west of Interstate 35W but have plans to expand east of 35W, mostly to neighborhoods south of Lake Street.

CenturyLink plans to seek a new franchise agreement that would allow it to provide its Prism TV cable service in Minneapolis.

Pine City
MidContinent Communications plans to bring gigabit internet to the Pine City area by the end of 2017.

Renville, Nicollet and Sibley Counties
The RS Fiber Board in collaboration with Hiawatha Broadband Communications will provide affordable fiber-optic broadband service in ten communities and 17 townships in Renville, Nicollet and Sibley County.

St Paul
The St. Paul Library now offers complimentary access to, a self-learning site with hundreds of courses and thousands of videos that focus on software training, business-skill building among other things.

The North Shore celebrates broadband redundancy when a fiber cut in Tofte did not take down communications throughout Northeast Minnesota as it has done in the past.


January 7: Free Webinar on Getting Started on Community Broadband

Looking for more events? Check out TechDotMN’s calendar Many events are based in the Twin Cities but it is a comprehensive list. (If you have an upcoming event, consider submitting it.)

Bernadine JoselynRinging in the New Year with Broadband Hopes by Bernadine Joselyn

New Year is always a good time to reflect on goals, progress and plans. At the Blandin Foundation our goal remains the same – to lift up rural areas by supporting broadband as a tool that improves access to education, healthcare and economic development.

In March, the Blandin Foundation Trustees extended the Foundation’s support of broadband. And while that still doesn’t mean we want to be known as the “Broadband Foundation” it does indicate that we remain steadfast in believing that broadband is key to thriving rural areas. In 2014, we held two broadband conferences. In January, we held a broadband conference in St Paul where we recognized that the leadership for broadband in the community is really in the local community. In November we met in Brainerd and saw a real focus on economic development.

One major development between the conferences was $20 million in investment at a state level. During the 2014 Legislative Session, $20 million in grants was approved. The Office of Broadband Development worked through the year to coordinate the opportunity. They had 40 applications for funds from communities from all over the state, sometimes led by the incumbent provider, sometimes the community, sometimes an entirely new provider. It will be fun to see which applications are funded and watch their progress in 2015.

Once again I had the honor of serving on the Minnesota Broadband Task Force in 2014. We have been working hard to extend a report and recommendations to the Legislature, including the recommendation of $200 million for future broadband investment around the state.

Our goals, plans and progress remain focused. I am optimistic that we will get closer to border to border broadband in Minnesota both by improving access and encouraging greater use and sophistication of use by all citizens. We applaud all of you who are helping to make this happen at a community, state and national level!

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN 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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