Kanabec County is looking at broadband improvements but is it enough?

According to the Kanabec County Times

Rural communities in Minnesota fed up with cave-man-like internet speed will soon get a technological boost to improve their web experiences. Telecom provider Century Link has already started the process of bringing Kanabec County up to speed. Thanks to major funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Connect America Fund (CAF), it will use “$500 million a year for six years” to wire underserved communities in 33 states.

They are hoping the change comes quickly…

Century Link said, it “will bring high-speed internet services to more than 114,000 rural households and businesses in Minnesota over the next six years”.

Marc Johnson, Executive Director of the East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Consortium, said of the anticipated high-speed internet, “We’ve been continuing to work with Century Link. Our hope is we influence them to build our area first because they are doing this in phases around the state. We happen to be one of the first areas getting service through this program.”

But there is also some concern at the rate of improvement…

That’s Century Link’s new fiber-optic installation, one of the main technological ingredients that will allow homes to experience a more reasonable connection. Then again, you have to define the words reasonable and fast. Century Link will offer speeds of “at least 10 Mbps (megabits per second) download and 1 Mbps upload to locations in FCC-designated, high-cost census blocks.”

While that bandwidth will be a huge improvement for those with no wired internet options, it’s still below the FCC’s definition of broadband which is 25Mbps download / 3Mbps upload.

It sounds like improvements will be felt most in the towns, not the outskirts…

Century Link explained that internet speed is dependent on the distance from your home to the fiber-optic equipment. So in general terms, your internet will be faster but not the fastest and where your home or business is positioned will determine the bliss or disappointment of your internet speed.

Midcontinent Communications advertises up to 200 Mbps down / 20 Mbps up, but not outside the city limits of Mora and Ogilvie right now. Midco says it will launch Gigabit service sometime in 2017. For the rest of Kanabec County, internet options are limited to the choice of one cable provider or satellite. On the outskirts of Ogilvie, for instance, some homes are nowhere near cable connections, leaving residents with expensive options. One satellite provider locally offers up to 12 Mbps download speed for $150/month. Plus there’s inherent latency (delay) with such a wireless signal because it is literally going up to space and back. Customers in these underserved areas may also spend $100-$200 a month on cell phone data to operate from a hot spot.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN, Rural 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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