Pine County Broadband Profile: current ranking 68

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.

Pine County broadband ranking has dipped from 59 to 68. There has been very little increased access to broadband at speeds of 100/20 since last mapping.

Pine County representatives participated in a regional broadband meeting hosted by the Blandin Foundation. At the meeting, Steve Hallan gave an update to what’s happening in the county…

Schools in East Central formed a cooperative (ECMECC) to do two-way video done through cable. 12 years ago they needed to upgrade. TO get federal funding, the schools need to do an RFP. MidCo got the contract and that got them engaged. The kids are well connected at the school – but the homes are not necessarily connected. There are areas where MidCo doesn’t go and CenturyLink isn’t meeting the needs. We have town hall workers who can’t get online at the office. SCI has done a good job in some areas.

We have residents that drive to the Twin Cities to work; they should be able to telecommute.

The cities seem to have access – they problems is the no man’s land between cities.

It seems like private companies need 15 households per square mile to get necessary ROI.

I’m worried about the kids who live in the areas just out of range of broadband. The libraries are full. The coffee shops are full. They need access. Pine Tech has a computer lab because so many students don’t have access at home.

Part of Pine County is served by Frontier; they (and angry customers) have been the subject of a series of public meetings with the PUC. Former senator Becky Lourey voiced her dissatisfaction

When opponents say to me that residents living in small towns, sparsely populated rural communities, farming communities, forest communities, etc. should accept inadequate and intermittent connection, I say that back in the day we all had radio, access to electricity (granted paying for our entrance from the main line), to telephones and that in today’s world, access to fiber is the equivalent to yesterday.

There is some good news in Pine County; Savage Communications received a grant in the last round to increase broadband access in Pin County…

Savage Communications, Dell Grove Township Broadband Expansion – $118,248. This last mile project will serve 170 unserved households, 3 unserved businesses, and 1 community anchor institution near and around Grindstone Lake located within Dell Grove Township, Pine County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, SCI Broadband will improve broadband service levels to 250 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up, meeting and exceeding the 2026 state speed goal. SCI will leverage its existing middle mile infrastructure to deploy a last mile fiber to the premise network to local businesses and residents. Building the fiber to the premise network will improve access to education, telemedicine, telecommuting and economic development as a whole within the region. The total eligible cost is $236,496, with an $118,248 local match.

Also Pine County participated in the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) initiative through their partnership with the Central Woodlands

The Central Woodlands Steering Team also prioritized partnering with township boards on broadband access. The Central Woodlands Inventory and Assessment project was designed to help townships move forward on broadband projects. For example, in Wilma Township in eastern Pine County, a retired resident leveraged $3000 in grant money for equipment to install new Wi-Fi technology to bring wireless internet to the town hall. According to project coordinator Penny Simonsen of East Central RDC, “Do not underestimate the power of a local stakeholder to influence the success of a project. Wilma Township is an excellent example of this, in a very positive way.”

Mediacom announced Gig upgrades in Pine County, specifically Sturgeon Lake Township and Windemere Township.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 40.12 42.84
100/20 37.37 38.18

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: 68

This entry was posted in County Profiles 2018 by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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