Norman County Broadband 2014 Update: Have and have nots

normanI’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 Norman County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 3.3
  • Number of Households: 2,863
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 59.15%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 61.92%

Norman is a county of haves and have-nots. In 2010, the FCC listed Norman County as one of the least served counties in Minnesota. Thanks to an ARRA-funded project awarded in 2011, part of the county is now well served. So they are no longer one of the least served, but at 61 percent they are still in need.

That being said, one of my favorite stories of business use of broadband comes from Norman County: Weave Got Maile

But then, broadband service revolutionized the way we did business. We went from hoping for $40,000 in sales to having $1 million within reach by the end of 2015, and from one part-time employee to 12 full-time employees with the intention of hiring eight more. We do business in 56 countries and are planning to build a new $500,000 facility to accommodate our growth.

Over the years, we’ve had to painfully decline business partnerships because of Ada’s broadband limitations. I was on an island in the digital world, which limited my company’s ability to keep growing.

Last year, my husband and I were heavily courted by North Dakota to relocate our business to where high-speed broadband service was guaranteed. We wanted to stay in our town, but also knew that without high-speed internet service, our company would not survive.

Not long after, our community received the attention of a local phone company recognized the need to move forward installing fiber so that our businesses and residents can prosper here.

If we had not received the commitment for higher broadband speed, we would not have achieved our dream goals.

So they clearly understand the need and they clearly have local providers who are willing to support the local economy – at least in parts of the county.

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

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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