St Louis County Broadband Profile: 82 percent have access to 25/3 but county of haves and have-nots

In 2014, st-louis80 percent of St Louis County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 82 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 39 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Northeast Minnesota in many ways the land of haves and have-nots. ARRA funding brought fiber to St Louis County’s neighbor Cook County. And ARRA brought middle mile coverage to the Northeast Service Cooperative. But service is not available everywhere.

Here is info on the haves

A Border to Border grant in 2015…

Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC) – Frontier Communications Corp., Border to Border Phase I. Awarded $1.96 million for their Phase I project that extends fiber from NESC’s middle mile network to 877 unserved end users and to serving nodes. The total project costs are $4.35 million; the remaining $2.39 million (55 percent local match) will be provided by IRRRB ($1.5 million), Frontier ($750,000) and NESC ($135,000).The proposed project is in scattered locations in St. Louis County, including areas in and around Crane Lake, Alborn, Meadowlands, Brookston, Forbes, Kelsey, Soudan, Kabetogama, Ely and Tower.

Another State grant in 2015

Mediacom, Pintar Road. Awarded $137,848 to provide broadband services to 122 unserved homes and businesses on the southwest edge of the city limits of Hibbing. The full cost of this project is $275,697; the remaining $137,849 in matching funds (50 percent) will be provided by a private investment made by Mediacom.

A Border to Border grant in 2017…

Residents in portions of Fayal Township can look forward to gaining robust broadband service with speeds of up to 200 megabits-per-second (Mbps) – twice as fast as Minnesota’s 2026 state speed goal….

The new network will be built by the summer of 2018, giving homes and businesses access to the same high-speed internet and advanced digital video services Mediacom delivers to residents in Hibbing, Virginia, and 12 other St. Louis County communities or townships.

The state broadband grant of $263,345 accounts for 39-percent of the project costs, and Mediacom will provide the remaining investment of $412,000. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who receive state grants are required to deliver service with speeds that will reach Minnesota’s 2026 state speed goal of 100 Mbps download by 20 Mbps upload.

The have-nots…

Cloquet Valley Internet Initiative has been working for better broadband in their area for a few years. They had a feasibility study done in 2013. They have and some success getting fixed wireless in the area. But they remain in the have-nots category. They are unsure what CAF 2 funding could mean to them. And local policymakers are not entirely sold on the need for government leadership in broadband expansion.

St Louis County is in line to receive $7,079,246 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 16,229 locations. 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 they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 82.72
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 38.78


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 they ranked:

DDI score of 38.98 out of 100.

More info:

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.

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