Renville County ranks 62 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Despite a region-wide focus on broadband, Renville is unlikely to meet either the 2022 or 2026 MN speed goals. But the region-wide focus on broadband access and adoption will keep the vision alive.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 59.06 51.78 50.43
25/3 (2022 goal) 61.90 55.06 53.10

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Renville County has benefited from three state grants:

  • 2016 – RENVILLE COUNTY HBC & RS FIBER – GRANT: $807,966
    Serving 193 unserved households, 99 unserved businesses, and 3 community anchor institutions in portions of Preston Lake, Boon Lake, Brookfield, Osecola, Kingman, Winfield, Crooks, Erickson, Sacred Heart (North), Emmet, Flora, Henryville, Norfolk, Birch Cooley, Camp, and Cairo Townships in Renville County with service to 1 Gigabit.
  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile
    Grant award: $808,080
    This project is a Middle Mile broadband infrastructure buildout to upgrade backhaul capacity between site locations within 20 southwestern Minnesota counties: Blue Earth, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock, Redwood, Renville, Sibley Swift, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.
  • 2014 – R-S Fiber Cooperative, FTTH Project
    Award: $1 million. Total project cost: $3.32 million. Impact: Service to 62 unserved and 536 underserved locations in Sibley and Renville counties. The project is part of a larger cooperative project estimated at $38.46 million that will upgrade broadband services to several thousand locations in the region.

Renville County (along with Sibley) is another one of the few communities in Minnesota where their broadband story might make a good opera. Ten years ago, residents were getting fed up with poor connectivity.  To address the issue a joint Powers Board was formed that ultimately included all seven cities in Sibley county as well as the city of Fairfax in Renville County.

In 2010, Blandin Foundation awarded the group a feasibility study grant, and the JPB used the study results to educate the public about the need and opportunity for building a world-class network, and to seek financing.

In the fall of 2012, concerned about the project’s plan for how to structure the project’s debt service reserve fund, the Sibley Board of Commissioners, in a 3-2 vote, passed a resolution to withdraw from the JPB.

Undaunted, immediately following this vote, a group of farmers walked across the street and in an impromptu meeting, vowed to continue the effort by “going back to their roots” as one of them said, and form a coop.

RS Fiber Coop hired Hiawatha Broadband Corporation (HBC) to build and operate the gigabit fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) network when the project was launched, and in June of this year, RS Fiber announced the formation of a long-term operating relationship with HBC.

Renville County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Minnesota Valley Tel. Co. (MVTC) and Midco applied to upgrade service in Renville. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)


  • 100/20 ranking: 62
  • 25/3 ranking: 81
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 6.6
  • Number of providers: 14


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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