Le Sueur County Broadband Profile 2020: Yellow rating: Ranking out 54 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 54
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.

Le Sueur County: Needs help, latest MN grant will help

The most enthusiastic award might go to Le Sueur this year. They are tireless in their determination but even with tenacity, the improvements are slow to come. But in the last year, BEVCOMM got a grant that will bring better broadband to the community. They are using CARES Act funding to deploy better broadband and they continue to push forward. Le Sueur was one of the early adopters (maybe impetus) for the statewide mapping that’s happening in Minnesota. Better data will help get support to the areas that need it.

COVID has exacerbated the divide between the haves and the have-nots; Le Sueur has seen this especially in the schools and with social services. But they also see that the increased need has helped draw attention, and hopefully resources, to the need.

 

 

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 70.67 70.33 70.65 82.78
25/3 (2022 goal) 80.45 79.91 72.68 90.39

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%
Le Sueur 88.3% 75% 72.4% 56% 4.8%

What we learned in the past:

In summer 2018, Le Sueur hosted a broadband conference that spurred a chain reaction. That reaction is still strong; Le Sueur is very active in efforts to improve broadband access and adoption in their community.

Le Sueur benefited from one state grant:

  • 2016 – ECKLES TELEPHONE COMPANY (DBA BEVCOMM) RURAL HEIDELBERG– GRANT:  $188,000

Update from 2020:

Le Sueur County started their tenure as a Blandin Broadband Community soon after COVID hit, so they have been doing everything online or remotely. But they are focused and it’s going well.

They are spending $140,000 of CARES Act funding to bring high speed wireless internet to Tyrone Township in partnership with Netwave Broadband.

They will benefit from a recent MN Border to Border award:

  • BEVCOMM (Eckles Telephone Company) – Le Sueur County Project – GRANT $1,857,376
    This last mile project will upgrade approximately 417 unserved households, 88 unserved farms, 59 unserved businesses, and 4 community anchor institutions in rural areas around the communities of Montgomery, Heidelberg, and New Prague in Le Sueur, Rice, and Scott Counties. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota and Le Sueur County, BEVCOMM will improve broadband service levels up to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. Sustainable broadband adoption will transform these unserved areas into highly-productive rural communities. This use and development of broadband will provide various home-based business options, stimulate economic growth, and stimulate innovation and investment. Education, health care, agriculture, energy efficiency, and public safety will improve with high-speed Internet access.
  • Total eligible project cost is $3,714,752
  • Local match is $1,857,376

Is broadband a help or hindrance in dealing with COVID?
Le Sueur County met with Blandin on Broadband to talk about how their broadband situation helped or hindered the ability to deal with COVID restrictions.

During the conversation, there was a lot of optimism and frustration expressed. There was frustration with reliability, data caps, access and digital skills. There was optimism with the increased attention broadband was getting because it was important in keeping life as normal as possible (school, work, access to healthcare) during the pandemic.

There is frustration in the school with mixed residential access and differing digital skills at home. It’s difficult to communicate when the parents aren’t online. The schools tried to support folks without access with hotspots, but they don’t work everywhere.

The County Commission meetings have gone online. Healthcare has moved online – thanks to quick learning and waivers and there’s great hope that the waivers will continue moving forward.

Ironically, several attendees had broadband issues getting on the Zoom call, in part because we met during a thunderstorm and many use wireless connections.

Checklist:

  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 54 (down 2)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 22.7

Details:

  • Districts: CD 1
    Senate: 19, 20, 23
    House: 19A, 20A, 20B, 23B
  • Find your reps

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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