Jackson County Broadband 2014 Update: FTTH but not ubiquitous

jacksonFor 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 Jackson County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 6.1
  • Number of Households: 4,429
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 68.78%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 68.78%

Jackson County has been thinking about fiber since at least 2009, when several cities and townships in the County decided to invest in looking at fiber options. They are part of (or located in) Southwest Minnesota, which received ARRA funds to deploy fiber to the home in several communities in Southwestern Minnesota and began serving homes in December 2011 and starting research wireless options for outskirt areas at about the same time. The providers in the areas (Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services – SMBS)  have also been Blandin Broadband Communities and have been working on promoting adoption in the area through that program. They have had success with local hotspots and Social Media Breakfasts.

So given that activity I was surprised to see that the sit at less than 70 percent coverage. But you can see from the map what is happening . FIber is deployed (in organge) and wireless is available (in green) based on where the fiber exists. There are pockets of DSL. I’m not sure if those areas areas served by SMBS or not. I suspect that SMBS will play a role in getting the rest of the county covered as they can.

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 (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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