Carlton County Broadband Profile 2020: Red Rating: Ranking out 76 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 76
Code: Red

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.

Carlton County: Improvement will be expense, but they are looking

To meet the speed goals for 2026, Carlton County needs to act. They are one of several counties that is served primary with one national provider, who may not be as invested locally as a local provider or cooperative. They recognize the need for improvement; they need to find a way to make it happen.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 52.02 47.57 58.22 52.32
25/3 (2022 goal) 75.17 71.71 67.29 62.74

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%
Carlton 85.1% 73.1% 73.5% 71.0% 2.2%

What we learned in the past:

In 2017, Carlton benefited from a MN state broadband grant:

  • 2017 – Carlton County w/ Frontier – Phase I: Cromwell/Kettle River – GRANT: $569,058

Unfortunately, that grant aimed at building to 25/3 Mbps. Last year we saw that much of Carlton County is served by one large national provider. That is likely a bottleneck to better access.

Update from 2020:

In May (2020), local media pointed out the inequity in broadband coverage in Carlton County…

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, vast swaths of rural Carlton County are either unserved or underserved by broadband internet services. …

While larger cities and those relatively close to the I-35 corridor like Cloquet, Carlton and Moose Lake enjoy ideal speeds, the more rural communities like Cromwell, Wrenshall and Kettle River are underserved at best.

Fond du Lac Reservation, adjacent to Carlton County has received a Border to Border grant in the latest round that may or may not help Carlton in the future:

  • Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa – Big Lake Road Project – GRANT $602,916
    This last mile project will upgrade approximately 37 unserved and 99 underserved locations in a portion of Carlton County located within the boundaries of the Fond du Lac Reservation, including the western part of the City of Cloquet and Perch Lake Township. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa will improve broadband service levels up to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, meeting or exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. By building a fiber to the home network, faster internet speeds will open up many opportunities such as telemedicine, home health care, electronic health records, online schooling, business development and more. All of these factors will assist in creating a more vibrant community and region.
  • Total eligible cost is $1,205,832
  • Local match is $602,916


  • Find more articles on broadband in Carlton County. (
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 76 (down 3)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 15.5


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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