A report on the status of broadband in many MN communities from Muninetworks

From Muninetworks (Institute for Local Self Reliance) on their latest report – featuring Minnesota communities…

Our new report, Minnesota Broadband: Land of 10,000 Connectivity Solutions [pdf], showcases the diverse range of approaches communities and local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have taken to expand affordable, high-quality Internet access in Minnesota. It includes a series of case studies that detail how communities are meeting the connectivity challenges of a broken marketplace shaped by large monopoly service providers.

The profiled projects include municipal networks, public-private partnerships, cooperatives, and private investment. They run from the most rural areas of the state to Minneapolis. Some examples include:

  • RS Fiber Cooperative, in south central Minnesota, which has brought fiber to local businesses and town residents. Rural residents benefit from RS Air, a fast wireless service available at affordable prices.

  • Arrowhead Electric Cooperative’s fiber network in Cook County, which succeeded beyond original projections. It provides fast and affordable Internet access to one of the most far-flung parts of the state.

  • St. Louis Park’s partnerships with both ISPs and the builders of large condominium complexes. One of the providers working with St. Louis Park is better known as the fastest ISP in Minneapolis, USI Fiber.

  • Christensen Communications, a 100+ year-old telephone company in south central Minnesota. The company demonstrated a strong commitment to its communities when the pandemic hit, and is now going above and beyond to build fiber with federal subsidies.

  • The Fond du Lac Band, in northern Minnesota, which built a fiber-to-the-home network that is rare in Indian Country.

From my seat is reads a little bit like the high school reunion notes – in the best way. If you’re from one of the communities featured, you’ll want to see what’s happened and is happening in your area. If you’re from an area struggling to get better broadband, check it out and find a community featured that shares characteristics with your community – whether that’s size of makeup of current providers or even just local energy around the issue. Each community is unique but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from what work and what doesn’t with our neighbors.

Here’s a more comprehensive list of the communities included:

Dakota County

  • Scott County
  • Carver County
  • Anoka County
  • Le Sueur County
  • City of Buffalo
  • City of Chaska
  • City of Windom (and area)
  • City of Monticello
  • Cook County
  • Lake County
  • Chisago County
  • Lac qui Parle County
  • City of St Louis Park

And a few providers:

  • Paul Bunyan Communications
  • Christensen Communications
  • Renville-Sibley Fiber Coop
  • USI Fiber
This entry was posted in MN, Research 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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