Blue Earth County investigates broadband with feasibility study

Mankato Free Press reports…

Blue Earth County is set to look into its rural broadband needs after receiving a $25,000 grant from the Blandin Foundation.

The Blue Earth County Board signed off on the grant Tuesday morning. The money will be used for a feasibility study that will identify where broadband access is lacking throughout the county and recommend potential solutions to get rural areas up to speed with other cities.

“We really are trying to get input from the broader community to say, ‘What is the need? How can that need best be met?'” County Administrator Bob Meyer said.

County officials plan to hire telecommunication consultants with Finley Engineering using the grant and county funding to conduct the study later this year. The county also is meeting with local internet companies to see what they would need to expand broadband across the area.

Almost all of Blue Earth County’s internet options meet the state’s immediate high-speed goals — at least 25 mbps downloads and 3 mbps uploads by 2022. Yet only about 14 percent of the county was equipped to handle at least 100 mpbs download speeds and 20 mbps upload speeds.

Every year I look at how each county is doing with broadband deployment. I often see counties that are doing fine today but aren’t working on plans for tomorrow. So it’s exciting to see a county that’s planning for the future!

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