Cass County Broadband Profile 2020: Red Rating: Ranking out 66of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 66
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.

Cass County: working on improvements but a long way to go

The good news for Cass County is that they are included in two projects that received Border to Border state grants in 2019; they should see improvements once those projects are completed. Also, CTC recently received CARES Act funds to deploy better broadband to serval areas, including Cass County. Finally, Lake Shore City (in Cass County) is also looking to improve access in their area. So, while at 63 percent coverage, they are currently not well served, yet they are actively looking to improve, and they have providers in the area that seem interested in improvements.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 63.21 51.61 35.92 34.07
25/3 (2022 goal) 84.53 88.02 77.58 66.92

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%
Cass 85.6% 73.3% 67.6% 50.1% 3.0%

What we learned in the past:

Cass County benefited from two MN state grants:

  • 2016 – TDS TELECOM CASS & CROW WING COUNTIES — GRANT: $3,000,000
  • 2014 – Consolidated Telephone Cooperative, Region 5 Virtual Highway Project – Award $2 million

One issue is that the 2016 grant aimed for 25/3 Mbps speeds so that won’t move the needle much. In September 2018, Paul Bunyan announced Gigazone upgrades in Cass County.

Update from 2020:

In September (2020),  CTC received CARES Act funding from both Crow Wing and Cass County to build broadband to unserved areas of Welton Road, County Rd 10, Border Lake, Little Pine Road and unserved areas in Lake Edward Township. Earlier in the summer, Lake Shore City put out a request for bids from broadband providers to help improve connectivity, especially in light of increased need do to COVID restrictions.

Cass County is part of two projects that received Border to Border grants in the last round:

  • 2019: Paul Bunyan Communications – North Central Minnesota Fiber Project– GRANT $2,562,916
    This last mile project will upgrade approximately 914 unserved and 439 underserved locations in parts of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and rural portions of Cass, Itasca, Koochiching, and St. Louis counties. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Minnesota Iron Range Resource & Rehabilitation Board, Koochiching County, and Morcom Township, Paul Bunyan Communications will improve broadband service levels up to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. A fiber-to-the premise project, the proposed project areas are a response to consumer demand and will provide relief in economically distressed communities that need new alternatives to diversify and strengthen.
  • Total eligible cost is $6,268,400
  • Local match is $3,705,484
  • 2019: WCTA (West Central Telephone Association) – Rural Staples Phase I Project – GRANT $555,355
    This last mile project will serve 69 unserved households and 40 unserved businesses, farms, and community anchor institutions in areas of Staples and Villard townships in Todd County; areas of Thomastown township in Wadena County; and areas of Becker township in Cass County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Sourcewell, and Region 5, WCTA will improve broadband service levels up to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. Broadband access will allow farmers and ranchers to follow markets, talk with customers and reach new markets, and use the latest precision agriculture tools to enhance their operations. The broadband network will improve access to health care, specifically mental health and senior care through e-visits and tele-health applications. Broadband will also help business owners manage remotely and could stimulate the local economy.
  • Total eligible cost is $1,234,123
  • Local match is $678,768

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Cass County. (http://tinyurl.com/hgtulgm)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 66 (up 2 from last year)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 4.9

Details:

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 (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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