Chisago County: have and have-nots but more haves soon with state funding

chisagoChisago County is a Blandin Broadband Community. They are also in a competition with seven other communities for three prizes worth $3 million, $2 million and $1 million. Last year (May 2016) they held a broadband conference and revealed results of a broadband survey; among other things 94% would subscribe to better service if it were available.

Currently 65 percent of the county has access to broadband at speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) *and* 100/20. The good news for them is that the broadband they have is scalable and will be as valuable in the future as it is today. They challenge is that coverage is not ubiquitous. When I reported in 2014, the results were similar – a county of haves and have-nots.

Good news is that they were recently awarded a Minnesota Broadband grant. They have developed a partnership between the county and CenturyLink and will receive just over $1 million. The county is investing and CenturyLink is using their CAF 2 funding to invest in FTTH in parts of Sunrise Township served by CenturyLink….

Sunrise Township (CenturyLink), Fiber to the Home – $1.07 million. This project will serve 584 unserved households, 10 unserved businesses and 2 community anchor institutions in rural Sunrise Township in Chisago County. The CenturyLink project will improve business, education, health care and telecommuting opportunities in the area. The total eligible project cost is $2.39 million, with a $1.31 million local match.

It will be a good project to watch because it is an area where state funding is being used to encourage/require a CAF 2 recipient to upgrade their network to Minnesota standards, not federal standards, which are much lower at 10/1 speeds. In fact – as the description above details this project will bring fiber to the home. It could be a good model for other CAF 2 funded areas.

Chisago County is in line to receive $1,357,845 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 5,074 locations. Not all of it to be spent in the grant areas in Sunrise Township. Frontier is the other incumbent in this area; they are CAF 2 recipients as well and are not participating in the project. To get ubiquitous coverage, Chisago will have to work with or around Frontier.


The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how Chisago County ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 65.25
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 65.45

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 Chisago ranked:

DDI score of 32.18 out of 100.

More info:

  • There is a matrix of Minnesota broadband adoption projects; it includes projects from this area.
  • Districts: CD 8
    Senate: 32 & 39
    House: 32A, 32B, 39A

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!

This entry was posted in County Profiles 2017, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

2 thoughts on “Chisago County: have and have-nots but more haves soon with state funding

  1. I live about three miles from Chisago City! My wifi is nearly nonexistent! I must manually connect and by the time I get to “Google, Amazon, etc., it has disconnected. Frontier upgraded about 1/2 mile down the road from us at the intersection of Ivywood Trail & Jewel Lane.
    It had no effect on my service whatsoever!
    Frontier has promised for years that they would upgrade. Same poor serviice, same high prices.

  2. I am sorry to hear that! The MN Broadband Coalition is hosting a meeting with legislators next week to talk to them about the areas of need in Minnesota. You are welcome to send a note on how you feel. We are collecting pictures of people holding signs to put faces to the issues. You can learn more here:
    The hope would be that they would continue funding for areas without good broadband and maybe someone would could use that to serve your area! I think it’s important for them to hear from people who don’t get service to remind them that there are real people whose lives are impacted by lack of service!

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