Chippewa County Broadband 2014 Update: needs Resilient Region to improve access

ChippewaFor 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 Chippewa County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 8.9
  • Number of Households: 5,241
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 24.47%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 24.63%

The numbers here are clear – Chippewa County is not going to make the 2015 broadband goals. But there’s interest in the area to improve.

Last summer, Montevideo (in Chippewa County) was the site of one of the Office of Broadband Development meetings on the broadband fund. Chippewa County is part of UMVRDC and were MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) community members, which means they got ARRA funding and Blandin support to promote broadband adoption. That region is unusual – Chippewa County sits with 25 percent broadband coverage; their neighbor Lac qui Parle is hovering at 99.36 percentage coverage. The juxtaposition has to make it difficult for the county without access. It’s a great area for the state for folks who like to be outdoors (or hunt) but all things being equal – which county would you choose for your new business. Chippewa County needs better broadband to compete!

I attended a meeting in Appleton last fall where the neighboring communities discussed the issue – it was clear that they recognize the need for action – and the opportunity to focus on the region to build a better business case.

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.

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

About Ann Treacy

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

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