Clearwater County Broadband Profile 2020: Yellow Rating: Ranking out 22 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 22
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.

Clearwater County: stalled with pretty good coverage

Clearwater County seems to have benefited from a Garden Valley Telephone Company upgrade in 2018. At that time, they look poised to meet the 2026 speed goals but not much has happened since.

AT&T launched a new FirstNet cell site in Clearwater County in 2020. That cell site may have spurred some improvements, or it may have taken advantage of existing infrastructure. The mapping available precedes the cell site announcement so it’s difficult to tell. But it seems likely that AT&T would include a local infrastructure upgrade, which we may see reflected in next year’s map.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 89.32 89.3 89.3 73.41
25/3 (2022 goal) 99.74 99.74 99.58 99.58

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%
Clearwater 80.8% 69.3% 61.0% 47.4% 2.5%

What we learned in the past:

Clearwater has been well poised for broadband for several years, but there has been little improvement in the last couple years. There is almost ubiquitous coverage for 25/3 Mbps access, but they need more to reach the 2026 goals. In 2018, Garden Valley Telephone Company received a $20 million loan from the USDA to deploy fiber in Polk, Clearwater, Pennington, Marshall and Red Lake counties. That may be the leap the county needs to close the gap for the 2026 goal.

Last year, we saw that much of the County is served by one large national provider. That may be a bottleneck to better access in those areas, because as we noted last year, lack of competition can impact the drive for improvement.

Update from 2020:

AT&T launched a new FirstNet cell site in Clearwater County.


  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 22 (down 5 places)
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 3.4


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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s