Pine County ranks 81 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Pine County is not poised to meet the broadband speed goals for either 2022 or 2026. The whole region of East Central Minnesota is in danger of not meeting the state goals.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Pine 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 37.26 38.18 37.37
25/3 (2022 goal) 58.28 42.84 39.70

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Pine County has benefited from a MN broadband grant:

  • 2017 – SCI (Savage Communications Inc.) — Dell Grove Township Broadband Expansion – GRANT $118,248
    Serving 170 unserved households, 3 unserved businesses, and 1 community anchor institution near and around Grindstone Lake located within Dell Grove Township, Pine County with service levels to 250 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up.

Pine County partnered with rural sections of three neighboring counties to participate as the  Central Woodlands in the 2015-2016 Blandin Broadband Community cohort, which means they have a focus on increasing broadband use in the community.

While countywide there are 8 providers, you can see from the map below that much of Carlton County (and indeed the area) is served by only one provider – and that is a large national provider. It can be a challenge to get a national provider to work in an area with such low population density.

Pine County was a site of a PUC meeting with Frontier, where many angry customers talked about their experience with the company. Meanwhile, Mediacom announced Gigabit upgrades in Pine County, specifically Sturgeon Lake Township and Windemere Township.

Broadband service throughout the county is clearly uneven. At a regional meeting (in 2018) hosted by the Blandin Foundation, one resident gave his view…

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.

To make strides forward, Pine County and all of East Central MN, will need to keep working to find a provider to reach their areas that aren’t getting upgraded. The MN broadband grants should help, but first they need a willing partner.


  • 100/20 ranking: 81 (down from 68)
  • 25/3 ranking: 84
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant
  • Household density: 7.9
  • Number of providers: 8


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 (, 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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