Cottonwood County Broadband Profile 2020: Red Rating: Ranking out 62 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 62
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.

Cottonwood County: Windom is served, the rest of the county isn’t

Windom, the county seat of Cottonwood County, has had an enviable municipal broadband network since 2004. Folks in Windom are well served. But outside of Windom, connections are mixed. The terrain does not suit fixed wireless solutions. There are remote areas and areas with lower population density. These areas are unlikely to get service without community engagement and intervention.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 66.67 66.67 66.34 19.24
25/3 (2022 goal) 72.79 74.17 67.89 60.52

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%
Cottonwood 83.1% 70.8% 66.4% 45.9% 3.7%

What we learned in the past:

Windom is the county seat of Cottonwood County. They have a long history with broadband. In 2004, Windom voted in favor of a municipal network. That gave birth to Windomnet, which is still operating.  The Institute for Local Self Reliance has estimated a yearly community benefit from WindomNet of over $400,000!

Cottonwood County (or Windom) has worked with the Blandin Foundation. They have benefited from two MN broadband grants:

  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile – Grant award: $808,080

In 2018 they benefited from a partnership between SDN Communications and the Southwest West Central (SWWC) Service Cooperative building a fiber-based internet service that will connect more than 30 school districts, including Cottonwood.

Update from 2020:

In December 2019, Senator Klobuchar visited Windom to talk about broadband and other issues. The discussion highlighted the issue in Cottonwood- primarily, Windon is well served but surrounding rural areas are not. One attendee described his situation. Wireless doesn’t work well for him, because the line of sight is difficult to find or maintain. There were two providers he could choose. He elected to go with 10 Mbps connection but only after keeping a 1.5 Mbps connection with the other provider because that provider was upgrading to fiber. Unfortunately this gentleman lives right outside of the territory served by that fiber. It’s not a unique story; location is everything in some communities.


  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 62 (down 3 places)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 7.5


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.

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