For the upcoming weeks I’m working on a County-by-County look at the State of Broadband in MN. My hope is to feature a county a day (in alphabetical order). In November, Connect Minnesota released their final report on broadband availability. Here is how Cass County stacked up:
- Household Density: 4.9
- Number of Households: 11,948
- Percentage serviced (without mobile): 36.01%
- Percentage serviced (with mobile): 37.7%
Cass is not poised to make the 2015 broadband goal. Only one third of the population has access to broadband. TDS announced upgrades in the area last summer, which may account for the 10 point increase in coverage from May 2014. The Blandin Foundation has provided funding to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to build a wireless network, which could include parts of Cass County. And I know one of the incumbent providers (Paul Bunyan) has been upgrading their communities’ connections.
Cass County is in Region Five (the Resilient Region). They are new Blandin Broadband Communities. So they will be working on broadband adoption in the next year. In their announcement of the BBC participation, Region Five called out several local champions, which is a strength that will help them get better broadband.
So hopefully there will be increased access in the future!
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 sync 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.