How can rural broadband catch up when they keep moving the goalposts? Ask MN Counties who aren’t catching up.

According to the Rural Blog

The FCC’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report says 39 percent of rural areas lack access to the newly defined broadband, while only 4 percent of urban areas lack it, [it’s 41 percent on tribal lands!] Karsten notes, saying “This rural/urban ‘digital divide’ in access severely limits rural populations from taking advantage of a critical component of modern life. . . . Rural schools lack access to high-speed fiber and pay more than twice as much for bandwidth. In a growing world of personalized online curricula, internet-based research, and online testing, this severely restricts rural students from educational opportunities their urban counterparts may enjoy.”

The answer isn’t keep the goalposts low – the answer is find a way to improve access everywhere. The FCC report provides data on connectivity in each county, which is helpful. The first step is recognizing where there’s a problem.

Below is a chart of access by county – organized by percentage of rural population without access (third column) but includes total and urban percent of population without access. (There are three counties without numbers.) You can see the range is great – from 1 percent to 99 percent.

I know charts do not transfer well to the website. You can download the full table of FCC data and the Minnesota portion; both will be easier to read and provide more data (population, population density and per capita income) that what is shown here.


Data comes from the Commission’s Form 477 data, as of December 31, 2014.

This entry was posted in FCC, MN, Research 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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