Kanabec County Broadband 2014 Update: less than 30 percent broadband coverage

kanabecFor 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 Kanabec County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 12
  • Number of Households: 6,413
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 28.54%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 68.78%

I have spent time in Kanabec. I did some e-marketing training with local businesses. The business owners are hard-working and willing to block out a whole weekend to building a website. The Chamber is very involved. They have some excellent local technical support. They were a BBC Community. They have done some fun programming for residents with their interactive video events. The community and the local businesses have invested in broadband adoption. They just need better access.

Kanabec has also been working on trying to get better access – especially through the Kanabec Broadband Initiative. They did a feasibility study in 2012 – the upshot was $2 million for FTTH in town, $9 million for rural FTTH or $7 for fiber-wireless hybrid. More recently they are part of the East Central Broadband efforts, a multi-county effort to improve broadband access in the area. Those folks are in a tough area where it’s difficult for the commercial providers to invest in communities because the business case for a ROI is unpredictable (at best). But they continue to work on it – hopefully their coverage will improve.

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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