Sibley County Broadband Profile: current ranking 42

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.

Sibley County broadband ranking has slipped from 41 to 42.

There has been some back and forth on the RS Fiber cooperative broadband provider project, a which provides broadband (fixed wireless and/or FTTH) to parts of Renville and Sibley County. Because there’s so much news I’ll present this county (and Sibley) a little differently. I’ll provide headlines to the various articles related to the county – starting with the earliest article since the last county profile (Feb 2017):

Also Sibley County was featured in a case study Blandin published on the community return on public investment in broadband. Here is an excerpt…

RS Fiber was born. Phase 1 of the project had the 10 cities commit to a $8.7 million Generally Obligated Tax Abatement Bond in the form of an economic development loan to the RS Fiber Cooperative to construct the fiber backbone connecting the cities and a FTTH network in each community. In Phase 2, which could begin in 2019, the 17 townships will be asked to loan $5 million in G.O Tax Abatement dollars to the cooperative to begin construction of a fiber to the farm network. The cooperative will make the bond payments on behalf of the cities and townships. The cooperative will borrow another $42 million from various bank sources to construct and operate the network.

RS Fiber hired Hiawatha Broadband Communications to manage the network build-out, operations and marketing. As they build out their fiber-to-the-home network, RS Fiber is offering fixed wireless services (50 Mbps down and 25 Mbps up) to customers to hold them over until fiber is available. The build out continues, and as it does it impacts the local community.

Knowing that access is only half the battle, RS Fiber focused attention on building broadband demand by becoming a Blandin Broadband Community (BBC). They worked together to create a plan to increase demand for and use of broadband in the community with classes for the community, including computer basics and more specialized classes; they distributed computers to low incomes households; they created an Innovation Center in Winthrop with things like hotspots, broadcast technology and a drone obstacle course.

And a breakdown on investments and returns:

he following investments have been made in the community:

  • $8.7 million Generally Obligated Tax Abatement Bond (between Sibley and Renville Counties)
  • $1 million Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Grant (2015) to RS Fiber
  • $150,011 from Blandin Foundation for broadband adoption
  • Total: $9,850,011

Using formulas devised to measure impact of broadband access, Sibley County has the potential to realize:

  • A combined household economic benefit of broadband of $32,774,600 annually
  • A combined increase in residential real estate value of $104,825,572

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 71.27 89.23
100/20 51.01 62.84

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: 42

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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