Otter Tail County recognizes they are behind in broadband

The Perham Focus recently wrote about the lack of broadband in Otter Tail County…

The county has some catching up to do. Currently, Otter Tail is the fourth-worst in the state when it comes to fixed, non-mobile broadband internet service speeds, ranking 84th out of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

Only 1.75 percent of households and businesses in Otter Tail County have access to a broadband service provider that offers download speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) or better, and upload speeds of at least 20 Mbps.

They heard about State broadband goals from Jane Leonard…

By the year 2022, she said, Minnesota wants to be among the top five states in the nation in terms of available internet access and speeds. Within 10 years, state leaders want 80 percent of Minnesota households and businesses to have access to at least one provider of broadband internet that offers speeds of 100/20 Mbps or better.

And spoke to at least one local provider…

In an email to the Focus, sources at Arvig said these broadband goals are realistic and possible, but are also “very expensive to accomplish,” and funds allocated by the state to meet the goals “don’t come close to covering the costs of making it a reality.”

Arvig, based in Perham, is one of Otter Tail County’s major broadband providers, serving about one-third of households and businesses throughout the county. Currently, the company is capable of providing broadband speeds of 100/20 Mbps to 20 percent of its service area.

Other broadband providers in the county include Charter Communications, Otter Tail Telcom, Park Region Telephone Company and a handful of others.

Arvig gives a couple reasons why upgrades are a tough business decision without State funding…

With inadequate federal and state funding, Arvig said, “constructing the infrastructure required to provide these types of speeds to a relatively sparsely populated area” gets too costly.

What’s more, most customers aren’t asking for these high speeds.

“We pay close attention to what our customers want and we really don’t see much demand for speeds of 100/20 Mbps in Otter Tail County,” according to the Arvig email, “as evidenced by the fact that 70 percent of our customers remain on the lowest speed package available.”

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, 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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