Swift County Broadband Profile 2020: Green rating: Ranking out 4 of 87

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Rank (from 100/20 megabits per second): 4
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.

Swift County: Top five broadband access status

Swift County’s partnership with Federated Telephone has provided nearly ubiquitous coverage. Along with access, Swift County is well served because in 2015, Federated Telephone (now Acira) got a $4.9 million MN Broadband grant to bring Fiber to the Home (FTTH) to the county. There are a few patches without service; Appleton is not served because at the time they were considered served and did not qualify for the grant-funded upgrade. TO get ubiquitous coverage, they will need to find a way to cover Appleton.

Swift County has been working on creating a culture of use by participating in the current  Blandin Broadband Community (BBC) cohort. Projects were reimagined a little with COVID, but in many ways the participation in BBC helped them be better prepared for the COVID restrictions.

COVID exacerbated the difference between the haves and have-nots. Some were able to work, learn and see a doctor from home. Others were not and the community worked to try to accommodate that difference. But it leaves a digital divide and causes people to spend time, energy and money to try to remedy the situation – instead of moving forward with innovation.

Broadband Access:

2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 99.5 99.6 64.15 30.41
25/3 (2022 goal) 99.54 99.64 99.64 78.95


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%
Swift 85.1% 70.0% 62.8% 46.9% 3.5%

What we learned in the past:

Swift County’s partnership with Federated Telephone has provided nearly ubiquitous coverage. Along with access, Swift County has been working on creating a culture of use by participating in the current  Blandin Broadband Community (BBC) cohort.

Swift County has benefited from two broadband grants:

  • 2015 – Federated Telephone Cooperative – Swift County FTTP 2015 – Grant award: $4,950,000
  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile – Grant award: $808,080

Update from 2020:

Swift County is a Blandin Broadband Community. The Blandin Broadband team got to meet with them several times to talk about the various projects, such as setting up camping reservations, a resource that will likely see more action after COVID-19 restrictions, computer distribution through PCs for People and working with local businesses to help them make the best use of digital marketing.

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

Despite their almost ubiquitous broadband, COVID exacerbated the difference between the haves and the have-nots. We heard from folks in both camps. Amanda has fiber. When the schools moved to distance education in the spring, she invited family from Little Falls to stay with them because they had better broadband. Their home connection served three adults working and four kids going to school. They never had a technology problem. Cindy was on the opposite end of the spectrum. She and her husband tried to work online from home, but they couldn’t work at the same time. For example, if one was on a Zoom call, the other couldn’t check Facebook.

The community tried to rally around the inequity, with wifi extensions at the library, mobile hotspots and the local healthcare facility created a room where folks without broadband could come to get online to take advantage of telehealth options.


  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 4 (down 1)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 5.6


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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