Rock County Broadband Profile 2020: Green rating: Ranking out 1 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 1
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.

Rock County: Rocking it at Number One – again!

In 2014, Rock County Broadband Alliance received a MN Border to Border grant to bring Fiber to the Home (FTTH) to almost all of Rock County. The community worked with the cooperative. They worked on deploying broadband. They became a Blandin Broadband Community and they worked on broadband adoption.

They spoke with Blandin on Broadband about whether broadband was a help or hindrance in dealing with COVID restrictions. It was a huge help. They can do anything and everything online – and they do. Access to healthcare, especially mental health is even easier now. Civic engagement has increased now that meetings are held online. It was easy to get students the connections they need for distance education because affordability and devices were the roadblock and those were easier to fix that having to deploy broadband.

Broadband has changed their quality of life.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 99.93 99.93 99.93 66.32
25/3 (2022 goal) 99.93 99.93 99.93 68.17

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%
Rock 87.9% 76.9% 70.7% 54.0% 2.7%

What we learned in the past:

Rock County benefited from two MN broadband grants:

  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile – Grant award: $808,080
  • 2014 – Rock County Broadband Alliance (RCBA), FTTP Project – Award: $5 million.

Update from 2020:

Rock County was a Blandin Broadband Community (BBC); the Blandin broadband team met (virtually) with them this summer to hear how things were going. It turns out they were going well.

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

Countywide ubiquitous broadband means the pandemic is an inconvenience but not a stopper. Kids could access classes remotely. People could work from home. County Commission meetings went online, and attendance picked up. Libraries hosted online events. Entire families worked, learned and entertained themselves online without slowing each other down. Everyone could Zoom at the same time.

They talked about how having sufficient broadband has allowed them to collaborate and innovate.

Healthcare has moved online, which has been a boon. With changes in policy and reimbursement, nearly everyone has moved to online care. That has opened the door to greater mental healthcare coverage as counselors can now be located anywhere. It has improved privacy and has been a time saving for patients and their loved ones.

Broadband has kept folks living facilities, such a nursing homes, in touch with each other and the outside world. It’s been a social lifeline to seniors who have otherwise had strict COVID quarantine rules in place.

Checklist:

  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 1 (no change)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 8.1

Details:

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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