I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year.
Lake County’s ranking has increased from 13 to 11. In 2010, Lake County got an ARRA award of $66.3 million to improve broadband access in their area; about $10 million of the award was an outright grant; the rest was a low-interest loan. There were bumps along the road to getting fiber to the community and bumps remain. As it stands today, there are portions of the county that are not yet served with fiber, an outstanding loan, and local provider Lake Connections is looking to sell the network while it is managed by Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC).
Money is still owed on the network and they have received at least one bid for the network…
On June 13, 2017, the county entered into a deferral agreement with RUS for principal and interest payments on the condition Lake County sell Lake Connections to provide the federal government with maximum recovery of the loan and grants. When the deferral agreement was executed, the county owed approximately $48.5 million on the RUS loan.
In August 2017, the county executed a memorandum of understanding with RUS in which RUS agreed to accept the sale price of Lake Connections in full satisfaction of the county’s debt for the construction of the network, according to documents provided by Lake County Administrator Matt Huddleston. If the Pinpoint bid is the winning bid, RUS will receive $3.5 million to satisfy the $48.5 million debt.
Lake County was one of five counties we looked at for the reports last year on Measuring Impact of Broadband in 5 Rural MN Communities. It looks at the value of the network in a different lens – specifically we looked at the benefits of the network to the residents. We found that community-wide the residents reap $13.7 million each year and the household value (community-wide) and increased by $38.5 million. We got to those numbers by looking at two formulas – the value of houses with broadband increase 3 percent (times the number of house with broadband) and annual economic benefit per household is $1,850.
That doesn’t pay for the network – but it does demonstrate the value of the network to the community. As part of the research for that report, we spoke to members of the community. Many were quick to say that given the chance, they would go ahead again with the network to help the community reap the benefits.
Info on Access:
|Speeds||% served 2017||% served 2018|
The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:
- 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
- 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026
Current ranking for 100/20 access: 11