Pennington County Broadband Profile: current ranking 12

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.

Pennington County broadband ranking has gone from 77 to 12. They may take the most improved award for the year.

A series of state grants has helped:

  • CenturyLink, Thief River Middle Mile – $1.32 million. The project will serve 491 unserved households and 118 unserved businesses in an area from Thief River to Roseau. CenturyLink will provide improved services that will encourage business development and increase access to education and health care in the region. The total eligible project cost is $2.65 million, with $1.3 million local match. [Roseau and Pennington Counties]
  • Garden Valley Telephone Co., Rural Thief River Falls East – $2.03 million. The project will serve 330 unserved households, 23 unserved businesses and 2 community anchor institutions in rural Thief River Falls. Garden Valley Telephone will upgrade broadband services that will improve economic and community vitality in the region. The total eligible project cost is $4.2 million, with a $2.2 million local match. [Pennington County]

Also AT&T has announced investment in the area.

More help is on the way with a $20 million loan going to Garden Valley Telephone through the USDA to build smart grid infrastructure…

Recipient: Garden Valley Telephone Company
Loan amount: $20,360,000
Project description: This Rural Development investment will be used to make system improvements in Polk, Clearwater, Pennington, Marshall and Red Lake counties, and in the vacation resort areas of Maple Lake and Union Lake. The borrower proposes to construct 295.1 miles of fiber-optic facilities and construct fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) facilities. These improvements will enable Garden Valley to enhance services and provide voice, video and higher broadband speeds for subscribers.

And in the last round, Sjoberg got a Minnesota state grant to upgrade part of Pennington County…

Sjoberg’s Inc., NW MN Rural Broadband – $307,088. This last mile project will serve 98 unserved households, 10 unserved businesses, and 3 community anchor institutions in a large area west of Thief River Falls in Pennington County in northwestern Minnesota. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Sjoberg’s Inc. will improve broadband service levels to 1 Gbps down and up. This project will leverage investments made by Sjoberg’s and by ARRA/RUS grant/loan programs from earlier years and will finish out earlier state broadband grant projects, to complete Norden Township and a substantial portion of the unserved areas of Sanders and Rocksbury Townships. It will also support plans by DigiKey in Thief River Falls to add 1000 new employees. These employees are going to be knowledge workers, who will need access to advanced in-home broadband services for their jobs and for general quality of life in remote NW Minnesota. The total eligible cost is $614,176, with a $307,088 local match.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 91.78 91.78
100/20 9.63 90.75

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: 12

This entry was posted in County Profiles 2018 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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