Chippewa County is in a precarious position. In 2014, only 24 percent of the population had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined at a lower speed.) Currently 72 percent have access to broadband at speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up). So there has been a great deal of improvement but that improvement may feel fleeting in 2026 when the definition of broadband changes again to 100/20. Currently only 24 percent of the population have access to that speed. And on one hand these speeds are just numbers but they do correlate to activities you can do online. At 25/3 one person may be able to do most of what they want online – and speeds of 100/20 the whole family can do what they want. That matters as healthcare and homework move online and more people work from home.
Chippewa County is part of the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Council which has been focused on broadband improvements and was a Blandin Broadband Community. More recently, Chippewa is partnering with five other counties (Murray, Pipestone, Lyon, Yellow Medicine and Lincoln) to do a regional broadband study to determine the feasibility of bringing broadband service to unserved rural areas in the six counties.
Chippewa County is in line to receive $477,735 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 666 locations. Unfortunately CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements.
The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how Chippewa County ranked:
- Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 72.28
- Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 24.45
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 Chippewa ranked:
DDI score of 41.23 out of 100.
- Find more articles on broadband in Chippewa County. (http://tinyurl.com/htwz58a)
- There is a matrix of Minnesota broadband adoption projects; it includes projects from this area.
- Districts: CD 7
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!