Crow Wing County Broadband 2014 Update: Part of the Resilient Region striving for better broadband

Crow WingFor 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 Crow Wing County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 22.5
  • Number of Households: 26,033
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 36.66%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 59.76%

Part of Crow Wing County got an upgrade last summer when TDS finished their ARRA-funded project, which mostly served Michigan. And there was concern with another ARRA-funded project that also brought some middle fiber to Crow Wing County about the network competing with existing commercial efforts. (CNS has issues with Eventis building infrastructure in the area as they already had fiber in areas.)

The disconnect I suspect is that Brainerd is well served, the outskirts of the county are not. There’s clearly some service, but regardless of which number you look at (36% or 60%) there are lots of people without services. Crow Wing County is one of the few counties were there’s a drastic difference between the wired and wireless coverage. And while the wireless service meets the state goal speeds one issue is the potential cost of data caps.

Crow Wing County is part of Region Five (the Resilient Region), which was just named a Blandin Broadband Community last November.  They have a long-standing (yet renewed) focus…

Leading their work is the Resilient Region Virtual Highway Connectivity Committee, one of several committees working on advancing the Resilient Region Plan. Together, with education, nonprofit and business partners throughout the county, this committee will rally local leaders to develop a sustainable model for broadband access and use in the Resilient Region.

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.

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