Itasca County Broadband 2014 Update: poised to dramatically improve access soon

itascaFor 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 Itasca County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 6.4
  • Number of Households: 18,773
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 55.13%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 66.72%

Itasca is the home county of the Blandin Foundation. They have been part of broadband adoption efforts for many years. Mostly recently the Itasca County BBC initiative highlighted many of their efforts to get businesses online and using social media to promote themselves and the community. Connect Itasca has been working to build a better business case for broadband deployment in the area by using a tool that helps with market research and development.

I know that Paul Bunyan is working on building their GigaZone; they started in Trout Lake Township and have plans for more. I’m sure that Paul Bunyan’s deployment will have a big impact on the broadband coverage in the County. Between adoption support from Blandin and deployment from Paul Bunyan, Itasca really has an opportunity to leap from metro counties with better broadband speeds.

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 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 (, 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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