Beltrami County Broadband Profile 2020: Green Rating: Ranking out 5 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 5
Code: Green

Annually, Blandin Foundation pulls together data from the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development and broadband news to gauge progress toward the state broadband goals (25 megabits per second download/3 Mbps upload by 2022 and 100 Mbps/20 Mbps by 2026). Leaders can use this information to improve broadband access and use in their communities. To see how the state is doing overall, or to compare counties, visit the Blandin Foundation interactive map. Or check out past years’ reports: 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Beltrami County near the top and climbing

Beltrami is the home county to Paul Bunyan Telephone, a cooperative that is focused on Gigabit service to their customers/stakeholders. The provider is also invested and engaged in promoting use of the network with things such as their annual Gigazone Gaming competition. In the last year, the community has become a Telecommuter Forward community, which will further promote broadband use, especially as residents (maybe recruits) look for ways to work from home amid COVID concerns.

It’s worth noting that Beltrami County has top ranking in Minnesota for counties with Gigabit access.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 99.25 98.79 96.3 96.35
25/3 (2022 goal) 99.49 99.41 99.4 99.36

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with a smartphone …with a tablet et al …with other
State of MN 90.3% 81.1% 76.5% 59.3% 3.5%
Beltrami 86.6% 76.2% 70.7% 54.1% 1.9%

What we learned in the past:

Beltrami County is lucky enough to be home to Paul Bunyan Communications, a local cooperative that has chosen to upgrade their area to Gigabit speeds. Paul Bunyan also is active in the community, including by sponsoring tech-intensive events such as an annual Gigazone Gaming competition. Beltrami has not benefited from MN state grants; they have not received grants from the Blandin Foundation. They are an example of a community that benefits from fully-invested provider.

A couple years ago, Beltrami was part of a Blandin Foundation report on the Community Return on Public Investment in broadband, which found (using formulas) that with these investments Beltrami County has the potential to realize:

  • A combined household economic benefit of broadband of $38,631,700 annually
  • A combined increase in residential real estate value of $102,593,266

Update from 2020:

Beltrami County was named one of 23 Telecommuter Forward communities by the State in August 2020. How this will manifest during COVID is yet to be seen but it shows an interest in broadband adoption. Also Paul Bunyan received a MN Border to Border grant to bring fiber to the Leach Lake Indian Reservation and the southeast Beltrami. That work might not be done until 2021, but it might be the nudge the county needs to get top ranking. It will obviously benefit the county but improving service around the county will help expand a culture of broadband use too.

It may be worth noting that Beltrami has lower-than-average access to computers and devices, which seems unusual given the hotbed of broadband access and activity.



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 MN County Profiles 2020 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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