Aitkin County Broadband Profile 2021: Yellow Rating: Ranking 78 out of 87

Rank: 78
Code: Yellow
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Aitkin County is near the bottom ranking. but they are working on it

Aitkin County has gone from 47 percent coverage last year to almost 53 in 2021. The progress is slow but it’s steady. They have been working with the Blandin Foundation as an IRBC (Iron Range Broadband Community) to promote better use of broadband. They were cohorts in Blandin’s inaugural Accelerate! program, a process to spur community acquisition and deployment of federal and state broadband funds. Also, they got Blandin funding in August to do a feasibility study, which is often a solid step to getting better broadband.

The IRBC has been working on increasing use through things like helping people use MyChart, which allowed for 900 remote visits in the first weeks of COVID. The hope is that Accelerate! and the feasibility study will put them in a good position to vie for federal funds such as Capital Project Funding and American Rescue Plan. (Projection for allocation of ARP funds in Aitkin is $3,080,992; broadband is one possible use.)

Aitkin will benefit from a MN State Grant awarded in 2021:

  • Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) – Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative Phase 4 FTTH – GRANT $198,607. This fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) project will serve 80 unserved and five underserved locations along the southeast side of Farm Island Lake in Aitkin County. Through a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, MLEC will bring 1 Gbps speeds to 84 homes and one business on the fiber route, exceeding the State’s 2022 and 2026 speed goals.

Aitkin was found to be one of the top 10 MN counties for highest digital equity needs, based on access to broadband, digital training and accommodations to increase access during COVID.

Aitkin is getting a yellow code because of the work they have done in the last year and because we continue to see steady increases in access to 100/20 broadband speeds. Also, the feasibility is an opportunity to get them on track.

Broadband Access:

Aitkin 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 52.96 46.66 37.74 17.55 11.52
25/3 (2022 goal) 64.32 63.62 60.17 45.68 27.48

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Aitkin 96.2 84.8% 6.3 47.9%

Previous grants:

  • 2017 – SCI – Shamrock Township Broadband Expansion – GRANT $148,503
  • 2020 – Emily Cooperative Telephone Company – Round Lake Fiber Project – GRANT $376,000
  • 2020 Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) – MLEC Phase 3 FTTH Project with CTC – GRANT $1,253,955
  • 2020: SCI Broadband (Savage Communications Inc.) – Glen Township Broadband Expansion Project – GRANT $195,848


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, MN County Profiles 2021 by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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