Connect America Phase 2 Funding in Minnesota: a blessing and a curse

Connect America Funds (CAF) Phase 2 is going to be a game changer for the broadband landscape in rural America. The quick explanation is that larger providers were offered the opportunity to accept funding to help subsidize broadband expansion to rural areas. The stipulation was that the provider must provide service that is at least 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up to everyone in the service area. They have until the end of 2020 to complete deployment. (There are incremental requirements starting with 40 percent coverage by the end of 2017.)

Minnesota will receive $85 million to serve 170,355 locations. Here’s the breakdown and specifics:

  • PC Carrier – Eligible Locations – Support Amount
  • CenturyLink – 114,739 – $54,035,149
  • Consolidated Communications  – 4,266 – $2,516,502
  • Frontier Communications – 46,910 – $27,551,367
  • Windstream Communications – 4,440 – $1,519,856
  • Total – 170,355 – $85,622,874

If I’ve learned nothing else from the TV show Toddlers in Tiaras, I learned that sometimes you don’t want to win the first crown. Winning the first crown is better than winning nothing, but it usually puts you out of the running for Best in Show. Getting access at speeds of 10/1 is better than what the communities receiving CAF 2 funding have now. And any improvement is an improvement. BUT those speeds are slower than the Minnesota speed goals of 10/5 (The MN Broadband Task Force is looking to update those speeds.) and they seem even slower when you compare them to rural areas that have Gig access, such as Grand Rapids, Red Wing, Lac qui Parle County, New Prague, Rogers, Melrose and others.

The providers have said they will build out for faster speeds. Some will. Some won’t. I’m sure economics will determine the answer. Fiber to the Home is cheaper to maintain BUT it requires upgrades and it’s difficult to recoup the costs of those upgrades even with the CAF 2 subsidy in areas with low population density and great distance between locations.

So the news for these communities is mixed – they will see improvements in the next five years. But knowing that incremental improvements will be made makes it difficult for a new provider to come into town to compete with the CAF-supported incumbent provider.

Who will be getting CAF 2 funding?

Daily Yonder has created an interactive map hat shows which counties will receive funding. (It’s worth noting that the funding is not necessarily countywide – in fact it rarely is but it’s a measure.) The FCC also maintains a map that provides even greater geographic detail.

CAF phase II

Looking at FCC documents, you can find the funds received and locations targeted for CenturyLink, Consolidated, Frontier and WindStream. I added the totals to provide a list of counties, funds and locations to be served in each…

County – locations – fund amount

  • Aitkin, MN  – 7139         –  $3,388,534
  • Anoka, MN  – 861       – $183,316
  • Becker, MN – 2,341   –  $821,889
  • Beltrami, MN – 1,730   – $582,788
  • Benton, MN  – 1,516   –   $ 730,865
  • Big Stone, MN – 41    –  $6,265
  • Blue Earth, MN – 3,934  – $2,422,876
  • Brown, MN – 101           – $95,995
  • Carlton, MN – 5,060    –      $2,197,685
  • Carver, MN  – 2,715    –     $1,184,151
  • Cass, MN –  795        – $310,616
  • Chippewa, MN  – 666 –    $477,735
  • Chisago, MN – 5074     –   $1,357,845
  • Clay, MN – 663        – $440,804
  • Clearwater, MN  – 102      –   $58,269
  • Cook, MN – 3,458    –   $1,447,038
  • Cottonwood, MN  – 1388       – $1,090,723
  • Crow Wing, MN  – 2286   –  $919,145
  • Dakota, MN  – 1893       –  $763,925
  • Douglas, MN – 400        –  $150,194
  • Dodge, MN – 1,508 – $985,458
  • Faribault, MN – 256  – $176,448
  • Fillmore, MN – 1009   – $924070
  • Freeborn, MN – 1,295  –   $934,480
  • Goodhue, MN  – 1991   – $1,104361
  • Grant, MN – 58  – $48,629
  • Hennepin, MN  – 305  –     $92,485
  • Houston, MN – 178    –  $137,605
  • Hubbard, MN  – 2,857    –  $913,117
  • Isanti, MN – 5,504         –  $1,897,923
  • Itasca, MN –  6,101    –  $2,487,709
  • Jackson, MN  – 1,908     –   $2,448,189
  • Kanabec, MN  – 4966        –  $2,057,245
  • Kandiyohi, MN  – 2060       – $1,382,302
  • Kittson, MN  – 201        – $126,244
  • Koochiching, MN  – 1829        –  $1,010,358
  • Lac Qui Parle, MN  – 25      –  $14,003
  • Lake, MN – 3           – $792
  • Lake of The Woods, MN – 950      –  $424,315
  • Le Sueur, MN  – 2,859         – $1,579,260
  • Lincoln, MN  – 401        –  $390,651
  • Lyon, MN  – 1699        –  $1,341,020
  • McLeod, MN  – 2,479       – $1,511,085
  • Mahnomen, MN  – 599   –  $293,759
  • Marshall, MN   – 535        – $454,418
  • Martin, MN  – 2076        – $1,618,420
  • Meeker, MN  –  3258        – $1,768,690
  • Mille Lacs, MN  – 4258       –  $1,867,463
  • Morrison, MN  – 2,915       –  $1,519,359
  • Mower, MN   – 2383        –  $1,760,503
  • Murray, MN   – 1947        –  $1,330,429
  • Nicollet, MN – 1,515      –  $993,522
  • Nobles, MN   –  1,794       –  $1,434,091
  • Olmsted, MN  – 2942          –  $1,409,915
  • Otter Tail, MN  – 3,305       –  $1,421,898
  • Pennington, MN –  1,005     – $553,443
  • Pine, MN   – 7769        –  $3,911,753
  • Pipestone, MN   – 810        –  $644,932
  • Polk, MN  – 259               –  $195,223
  • Pope, MN  – 58         –  $33,275
  • Ramsey, MN  – 96              –  $19,030
  • Redwood, MN  – 415     –  $278,818
  • Renville, MN  – 1702     –   $1,493,456
  • Rice, MN   – 3,073         – $1,293,094
  • Rock, MN  – 9           –  $3,967
  • Roseau, MN –  1,648       –  $847,823
  • St Louis, MN  –  16,229            – $7,079,246
  • Scott, MN  – 680           – $315,273
  • Sherburne, MN   – 2,159            – $525,436
  • Sibley, MN  – 2,245             – $1,673,898
  • Stearns, MN  – 3883          –  $1,530,252
  • Steele, MN  – 2645          –  $1,612,611
  • Stevens, MN  – 87            – $69,860
  • Swift, MN  – 122       – $32,335
  • Todd, MN   – 796       – $387,849
  • Traverse, MN  – 352               – $293,728
  • Wabasha, MN  – 1,638     – $1,042,497
  • Wadena, MN  – 141      –  $70,122
  • Waseca, MN  – 2271       – $1,429,661
  • Washington, MN  – 1374        – $308,683
  • Watonwan, MN  – 821      – $679,539
  • Wilkin, MN  – 71           –  $47,246
  • Winona, MN   – 475     –  $245,212
  • Wright, MN  – 5488       –  $2,006,869
  • Yellow Medicine, MN  – 1250          – $977,738
This entry was posted in FCC, Funding, MN, Policy, Vendors 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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