Polk County Broadband Profile 2020: Green rating: Ranking out 17 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 17
Code: Green

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.

Polk County: near bottom of the broadband ranking

Polk County has benefited from MN Border to Border grants in the past. And they will benefit from a project in the last funding round. Grants went to Halstad Telephone, a local cooperative. They also benefited from a federal grant to Garden Valley Telephone. They are fortunate to have engaged providers in their area. An engaged provider can make a big difference.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 91.76 88.35 85.39 80.89
25/3 (2022 goal) 93.09 93.11 93 90.78

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%
Pipestone 84.3% 74.1% 69.5% 52.1% 2.6%

What we learned in the past:

Polk County has benefited from three state broadband grants:

  • 2015 – Halstad Telephone Company – Gentilly Township – Grant award: $424,460
  • 2014 – Halstad Telephone Co., Halstad Tract MN 11902500 FTTH Amount $1.65 million

In 2018, Polk County also benefited when Garden Valley Telephone Company received a loan of $20,360,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and when Red River Valley Cooperative Power Association received a $8,000,000 USDA loan to improve infrastructure for a smart grid system. They also will receive almost $2 million in FCC funding over the next 10 years.

Update from 2020:

Polk County will benefit from a MN Border to Border broadband grant awarded in the last round of funding.

  • 2019: Halstad Telephone Company – Rural East Grand Forks Expansion Project – GRANT $440,000
    This last mile project will upgrade approximately 79 unserved and 22 underserved locations in areas of Rinehart, Huntsville, Sullivan, and Grand Forks Townships in Polk County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Halstad Telephone Company will improve broadband service levels up to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. Families living in the project area will improve their education and health with access to e-learning, e-medicine and other quality-of-life opportunities provided through a robust broadband connection. Farms wills be more efficient and reduce their impacts on the environment by utilizing precision farming techniques due to the increased ability to transfer large amounts of agricultural data to consultants in shorter periods of time. Businesses can increase productivity, allow remote working, and better compete on a worldwide scale as they use the improved broadband for operations, marketing, data analytics, and expanded e-commerce opportunities.
  • Total eligible cost is $1,067,362
  • Local match is $627,362


  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 17 (up 2)
  • Has worked with Blandin
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant
  • 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 (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.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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