Olmsted County Broadband 2014 Update: Wireless makes the difference

olmstedI’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 Olmsted County stacked up:

  • Household Density: 87
  • Number of Households: 57,080
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 57.69%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 98.10%

Clearly Olmsted County is one of those rare places where wireless access makes a big difference – a 40 percent difference! And that wireless boost is fairly new. Back in 2013, Olmsted and Winona Counties were some of the least served in the area – with less than 20 percent coverage.

Also in 2013, CenturyLink reported that they would be getting CAF funding to better serve at least portions of Olmsted County. And they have been working with Dakota County on better infrastructure. So movement is being made, they just need more of it.

And once/when they have it, Olmsted County knows what to do with technology. Despite less than stellar connectivity, Olmsted was named third top digital county (for smaller county in the US) by the Center for Digital Government’s Digital Counties and the National Association of Counties.

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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