Itasca County Broadband Profile 2020: Yellow Rating: Ranking out 28 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 28
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.

Itasca County: recent grant will help improve access

Itasca County has seen very small incremental increases in broadband over the last few years. However, they are in proximity to providers who have shown an interest in serving Fiber to the Home in rural areas and Paul Bunyan received a Border to Border grant that will improve access in the last round of funding. They are sitting on fertile ground.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 84.14 83.06 79.44 76.35
25/3 (2022 goal) 87.67 93.12 86.15 78.92

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%
Itasca 85.1% 73.6% 67.4% 52.0% 2.5%

What we learned in the past:

Itasca has benefited from several MN broadband grants:

  • 2017 – Paul Bunyan Communications – North Central Fiber – GRANT $802,620
  • 2015 – Paul Bunyan Central Itasca County Fiber – Grant Award: $1,980,000

Itasca County is fortunate in that there are several providers in the area that currently offer Gigabit services. They need to work with providers to extend or expand their services.

Update from 2020:

Itasca County has been one of the counties leading the initative to encourage Minnesotans to take the statewide broadband speed test. And they will benefit from a Border to Border project awarded to Paul Bunyan in the last grant round:

  • 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


  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 28 (down 1)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 6.4


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.

3 thoughts on “Itasca County Broadband Profile 2020: Yellow Rating: Ranking out 28 of 87

  1. My husband and I own and operate a small business from our home in Balsam Township, Itasca County. The last time Paul Bunyan laid cable, they stopped just short of County Rd. 585, which leads into our neighborhood. I contacted them and found it would be approx. $32,000 to run the lines to our homes. I know there is interest in our area based on our lake association meeting conversations. We are dealing with very poor CenturyLink phone lines and want to upgrade. Is there any plan that you know of that would include our Hartley Lake Area? We have been told by CenturyLink that the phone service we have is the best we will every get from them and it makes it very difficult conducting business at times. As for internet, we use satellite. Any input or thoughts would be appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Mary Pehrson

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