Cook County Broadband Profile 2020: Yellow Rating: Ranking out 14 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 14
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.

Cook County: stalled with pretty good coverage

Cook County has had almost 95 percent broadband coverage at speeds of 100/20 Mbps since we started tracking progress. Despite being so close to the prize, they are dropping to a yellow status, because without renewed attention on broadband expansion, reaching the state goal won’t happen.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 94.5 94.5 94.5 94.46
25/3 (2022 goal) 94.5 94.5 94.5 94.5

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%
Cook 89.4% 82.6% 64.2% 53.0% 5.8%

What we learned in the past:

Cook County suffered for years because all telecommunications depended on a single fiber line. In 2008, dial-up was still the only choice for many residents. A grant from Blandin Foundation and a matching contribution from the County, along with additional support from Arrowhead Electric Coop, funded a feasibility study to examine the problem and potential solutions.

Based on the results of the feasibility study, the Cook County Board of Commissioners took up the idea of developing a fiber network. The Board passed an ordinance in 2009 declaring that a broadband network was in the best interests of the County and created the Fiber Optic Network Commission. Cook County formed a partnership with Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, which applied for and was awarded over $16 million in federal stimulus grants and low interest loans to build a fiber-to-the-home broadband network throughout Cook County.

In addition, Cook County awarded Arrowhead Cooperative a $4 million grant from the 1% sales tax fund.

Update from 2020:

Cook County was declared a Telecommuter Forward community, which indicates an interest in promoting broadband use as well as deployment. Cook County also has a passionate champion for online communication, Anne Braatas. She has been working with kids (grade 4-12) on online marketing and communications projects.


  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 14 (down 1 place)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: .7


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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