Clearwater County ranks 17 (of 87) for access to 100/20 broadband: code yellow

Clearwater County is likely to meet the state speed goals for 2022; but the outlook isn’t as clear for 2026.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Clearwater 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 89.3 89.3 73.41
25/3 (2022 goal) 99.74 99.58 99.58

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Clearwater has been well poised for broadband for several years, but there has been little improvement in the last couple years. There is almost ubiquitous coverage for 25/3 access but they need more to reach the 2026 goals.

In 2018, Garden Valley Telephone Company received a $20 million loan from the USDA to make system improvements (fiber-optic facilities and construct fiber-to-the-premises) in Polk, Clearwater, Pennington, Marshall and Red Lake counties, and in the vacation resort areas of Maple Lake and Union Lake. That may be the leap the county needs to close the gap for the 2026 goal.

There are 7 providers in Clearwater, but you can see from the map below that much of Clearwater County is served by only one provider and that is not a national provider. It can be difficult to persuade a national provider to upgrade in areas where the business case is not clear. But there is (at least) one area where there is competition. There are several providers in the county that provide speeds to meet the 2026 goals. It’s a matter of working with those providers to encourage upgrades in the areas that are currently underserved.

Clearwater has not benefited from a MN broadband grant – yet. The grant program has prioritized geographic diversity among awardees but there were no applications submitted for 2019 that might help.


  • 100/20 ranking: 17 (down 4 places)
  • 25/3 ranking: 4
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 3.4
  • Number of providers: 7


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. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)
This entry was posted in County Profile 2019, Yellow 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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