Kanabec County ranks 84 (out of 87) for broadband at speeds 100/20: code red

Kanabec County is not on track to meet state broadband speed goals for either 2022 or 2026. They are at the bottom of the ranking and limited progress has been made in the last few years.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Kanabec 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 26.93 38.54 26.07
25/3 (2022 goal) 66.05 67.07 34.04

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Kanabec County has worked with the Blandin Foundation. The Kanabec Broadband Initiative has been working on better broadband for years and Kanabec County has been part of the East Central Regional Broadband Group. They are aware of the need in their area.

East Central, just north of the Twin Cities, is an area that is largely served by one large national provider, as the map below indicates. That lack of competition has been a roadblock.

Kanabec did benefit from a state broadband grant:

    Serving 337 unserved households, 37 unserved businesses and 1 community anchor institution in the city of Bock and portions of Hayland and Borgholm Townships in Mille Lacs County and a portion of South Fork Township in Kanabec County with services to 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload, reaching the 2026.

At the end of 2017, CenturyLink announced upgrades in Kanabec County using CAF 2 funding…

Rural residents who have struggled to find ways to access the internet from their homes may be in luck as Century Link is expanding services to include an additional 1,400 homes in the Braham area, and 3,000 homes in the Mora area.

But these is some concern that the upgrades will not be sufficient…

“This is a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go,” said Doyle Jelsing of the Kanabec Broadband Initiative. “We welcome the improvement, however, time will work against us as the need for broadband increases.”

Assuming the CenturyLink project happened sometime in 2018, and again looking at the table above, it looks like it hasn’t improved countywide progress towards the 2022 or 2026 speed goals and that speaks to drawbacks of CAF II funding.

In 2018, a Blandin Foundation report looked at the impact of Federal CAF II funding in two towns in Chisago, Isanti and Kanabec Counties: Lindstrom and Braham. CAF II money went to qualifying providers (including CenturyLink) subsidize network deployments that can deliver service of at least 10/1. The study found that while some areas were upgraded beyond that speed; some remain at speeds that do not meet the 2022 nor 2026 MN broadband goals.

In September 2019, Senator Klobuchar’s staff held a listening session in Kanabec County. They heard from Marc Johnson, with the East Central Minnesota Education Cable Cooperative(ECMECC), who spoken about the insufficiency of  CAF II-funded network  speeds of 25/3.. Residents also spoke about their worry that as healthcare moves online,  older residents won’t have access to the  services they need.


  • 100/20 ranking: 84 (down from 67)
  • 25/3 ranking: 79
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 12
  • 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, Red by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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