Dodge County Broadband 2014 Update: Well covered – maybe due to student entrepreneurship

DodgeFor 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 Dodge County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 16.9
  • Number of Households: 7,460
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 99.1%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 99.4%

Dodge County is doing well. It’s sandwiched between Rochester and Owatonna. I suspect that the infrastructure from/for the Mayo Clinic has been helpful to them. They have a number of providers in the are: BevComm, Charter, Citizens Telecom Company (and others). I don’t hear much about the area in terms of broadband – probably because they are so well served. One fun story is about a students at nearby St Olaf College who started a wireless broadband service in 2012…

This spring Darin Steffl ’13 climbed to the top of a 185-foot tall grain elevator in his hometown of Kasson, Minnesota, and installed four antennas.

It was the first step in a business venture that will give residents of Kasson, a rural community of about 6,000 people located 15 miles west of Rochester, a choice when it comes to their Internet service provider. Previously the only option residents had was a one megabit per second Internet plan from the local phone company that cost $80 per month. The antennas Steffl installed will enable them to buy Internet up to 20 times faster with pricing that ranges from $42 to $68 per month.

And Kasson is just the beginning. With the support of a $3,000 entrepreneurship grant he received from the St. Olaf Center for Experiential Learning, Steffl launched a company called Minnesota WiFi. This summer he’ll work to offer affordable, high-speed Internet to all of the rural residents of Dodge County, Minnesota, and he hopes to have 120 to 130 customers by September.

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), 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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