Aitkin County ranks at the bottom for broadband access; unfortunately, it’s a position they have held for several years. The community is active and wants better broadband; legislators (Rep Thissen and Sen Schmit) have visited the area to talk about broadband.
The local cooperative did a feasibility study and found that it would cost $65 million to get FFTH in the service area.
Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative recently received a Border to Border Broadband grant from the State for a project will serve 763 unserved households, 2 unserved businesses, 2 unserved community anchor institutions, 31 underserved households, and 2 underserved businesses in Aitkin County.
Aitkin is on the short list to receive $3,388,534 for upgrades via CAF 2 (Connect American Funds) but CAF 2 only requires 10/1 (Mbps down/up) access. Perhaps they can incent incumbent providers to make improvements beyond that 10/1 requirement.
Previously through the Blandin Broadband Community (BBC) program and now through the Iron Range Broadband Community (IRBC) program, they are holding community meetings about broadband and working on local projects to spur better use of broadband. But as the map indicates, most of the county is pink, which means unserved. (They do not have access to broadband at speeds at 25/3.)
The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how Aitkin ranked:
- Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 27.48
- Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 11.51
Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how Aitkin ranked:
Ranked last – with a DDI score of 68.43 out of 100.
- Find more articles on broadband in Aitkin County. (http://tinyurl.com/hdqdmhr)
- There is a matrix of Minnesota broadband adoption projects; it includes projects from this area.
- Districts: CD 8
I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!