Cottonwood County Broadband 2014 Update: Windom looks good the rest needs help

CottonwoodFor 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 Cottonwood County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 7.5
  • Number of Households: 4.857
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 60.52%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 60.52%

Cottonwood is one of those middle of the pack counties. As you look at the map, you can see a lot of red (underserved) areas. In fact the only area that is served, is the area around Windom. According to information the FCC released two years ago, Cottonwood County is an area that is slated to get upgrades from CenturyLink through CAF (Connect American Funding). Looking at a Connect MN chart from May 2013, there hasn’t been much increase in coverage since that time. (In May 2013, 60.13%  of Cottonwood County was served.) So perhaps improvements are coming soon!

Windom is well covered and home to Windomnet, which has been a cornerstone for expanding broadband throughout Southwest Minnesota. Windom was also a MIRC community, which means they got Blandin leadership and ARRA funding to do broadband adoption work. SO there is interest in the area. Between CenturyLink and Windomnet, perhaps there are some options for deployment.

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, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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