Clay County Broadband 2014 Update: Proximity to North Dakota Should Help

ClayFor 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 Clay County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 21.2
  • Number of Households: 22,279
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 82.5%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 82.5%

There aren’t a lot of cities in Clay County. I suspect once you filter out Moorhead, the county seat, the population density lowers but Clay County borders North Dakota. As the oil boom in North Dakota continues, it makes sense that it would mean greater opportunity for Clay County and hopefully that will be reflected in the broadband access.

Back in 2010, Clay County made the list of the 9 unserved counties in Minnesota based on the FCC Annual Broadband Report, which defined broadband as 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Clearly Clay County has improved since then. Maybe the North Dakota proximity has helped. Last summer (2014), Barnesville was added to a projects in North Dakota that was awarded USDA funds and subsequently Barnesville will be getting Fiber to the Home connections.

With any luck the project in Barnesville will be successful and build a momentum for more access and/or the excitement in North Dakota will lead to more investment and/or demand for access.

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 (, 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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