Benton County Broadband Profile 2020: Yellow Rating: Ranking out 21 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 21
Code: Yellow

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.

Benton County: big leap two years ago, perhaps poised for more

Two years ago, Benton County moved the broadband needle from 26 to 88 percent for access to 100/20 Mbps after benefitting from two MN Border to Border grants. Change has been minimal since that time, but they will benefit from another grant awarded in the last round. Hopefully, we will see greater increase next year. They are at the top quarter of the ranking but to maintain rank and move ahead they need to stay focused.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 89.36 88.18 25.83 14.28
25/3 (2022 goal) 92.05 91.47 87.49 87.61

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%
Benton 89.3% 76.8% 74.8% 54.2% 3.6%

What we learned in the past:

Benton County saw a big leap in access in 2018, presumably after getting two Border to Border grants in 2017 (and one in 2014) in their area:

  • 2017 – Benton Cooperative Telephone Company – Rice Ramey – GRANT $765,015
  • 2017 – Palmer Wireless – Duelm Hwy 95 – GRANT $162,814
  • 2014-CenturyLink Foley, Benton County–Balkan Township – Award: $382,883.

Previously, they were one of the original MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities), the Blandin Foundation’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)-funded broadband adoption program.

Update from 2020:

Benton County saw a slight increase in access in the last year. They will benefit from the most recent round of MN Border to Border grants:

  • Benton Cooperative Telephone Company – Ramey Phase I – GRANT $936,759
    This last mile project will serve approximately 253 unserved households, nine unserved businesses, two unserved town halls, and 97 unserved farms in the Ramey ILEC exchange in portions of Alberta and Granite Ledge Townships in Benton County, and portions of Hillman, Lakin, and Morrill Townships in Morrison County, and a portion of Page Township in Mille Lacs County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Benton Cooperative Telephone Company will improve broadband service levels to at least 25 Mbps download and 25 Mbps upload, and a maximum speed of 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload, meeting or exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. These homes and businesses will have faster access to needed crop prices, ordering parts, educational opportunities, and telemedicine services.
  • Total eligible project cost is $2,676,454
  • Local match is $1,739,695


  • Find more articles on broadband in Big Stone County. (
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 5 (down 1)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 4.3


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 uncategorized 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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