Morrison County Broadband 2014 Update: State funding and BBC programming should help

morrisonFor 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 Morrison County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 11.3
  • Number of Households: 13,080
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 38.32%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 38.44%

Morrison is not well served – but they are getting help. Morrison is part of CTC’s Minnesota Broadband Fund Virtual Highway Project

Consolidated Telephone Cooperative (CTC), Region 5 Virtual Highway Project. Awarded $2 million to bring high-speed Internet to 247 unserved and 90 underserved premises in Cass, Crow Wing and Morrison counties. This is a shovel-ready first phase in a regional broadband development effort. The full project cost is $4.22 million. The remaining $2.22 million (53 percent) in matching funds will be supplied by a private investment made by CTC.

Morrison, again through the Region 5 (aka Resilient Region) affiliation, is also a Blandin Broadband Community, which should help boost demand in broadband, which helps make the case for supply…

Region Five has been doing this for a number of years through their Resilient Region Plan, a development strategy that resulted from input by more than 600 Central Minnesotans. One of the Plan’s goals centers on using broadband technologies to improve bottom lines as well as quality of life.

“We are excited to be chosen to participate as a Blandin Broadband Community. Our “community” is the entire five-county region of Cass, Crow Wing, Todd, Morrison, and Wadena,” said Cheryal Hills, executive director of Region Five Development Corporation.

So things are happening – let’s just hope it’s enough to bring them up from 38 percent coverage!

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.

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