Mille Lacs County Broadband Profile 2022: Red rating: Ranking out 73 of 87

Rank: 73
Code: Red
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Mille Lacs County: new provider in the area might help

Mille Lacs County ranks 73 for broadband access and 81 for digital equity out of 87 counties. They have seen incremental but steady improvement since we’ve been tracking but landing at only 66.7 percent coverage to broadband of 100 Mbps down and 20 up in 2022. They have 4256 households without access to broadband at that speed. Estimates indicate that it will cost $40 million to get to ubiquitous broadband in the county.

County Housing Unit Density Number of Housing Units 100/20 Mbps houses unserved Cost to close the gap
Mille Lacs 18.8 12,786 66.71 4256  $       39,585,072.42

Mille Lacs will benefit from https://blandinonbroadband.org/2022/12/15/more-on-mn-broadband-grant-in-mille-lacs-county/wo border to border grants announced in December 2022:

  • Savage Communications Inc. (SCI) – Northern Mille Lacs County Broadband Expansion – GRANT $476,108
  • Benton Cooperative Telephone Company – Borgholm Township Project – GRANT $1,118,289 (Learn more)

Mille Lacs County was part of the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) initiative from 2012-2014. In November (2022), the Mille Lacs County Board of Commissioners met to hear about broadband options. The outgoing Economic Development Manager Mike Wimmer spoke optimistically of East Central Energy new entry to the broadband provider business, which will hopefully help them accelerate their improvement but until we see that play out, they maintain their red coding.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Mille Lacs is $5,096,262; broadband is one possible use. Mille Lacs’ history with the Blandin Foundation should help the community recognize the value of investing ARP in broadband. Because if their slow progress, they are code red.

Broadband Access:

  2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 66.71 60.1 58.9 52.77 54.42 47.07
25/3 (2022 goal) 75.42 74.46 87.15 83.86 62 47.86

Digital Equity:

Mille Lacs County ranks 81 out of 87 for digital equity. (See full Digital Equity Profile)

Mille Lacs County ranks 44 out of 87 for computer ownership. 90.9 percent of homes have a computer of device as compared to statewide ownership of 95.5 percent.

Past grants:

  • 2016 – BENTON COOPERATIVE TELEPHONE COMPANY BOCK – GRANT: $510,000
  • 2019: Benton Cooperative Telephone Company – Ramey Phase I – GRANT $936,759
  • MN State Grants awarded in 2021: Savage Communications Inc. (SCI) – Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (Onamia) Broadband Expansion – GRANT $70,261 This last mile fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) project will serve 102 unserved households within the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Reservation in Mille Lacs County.
  • Benton Cooperative Telephone Company – Ramey Phase 2 Project – GRANT $338,011 This last mile project will serve 119 unserved locations in the Ramey telephone exchange located in portions of Lakin and Mount Morris townships in Morrison County and a small portion of Dailey and Page townships located in Mille Lacs County.

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Mille Lacs County (http://tinyurl.com/h7wcdjj)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 73 (down 4)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 18.8

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 County Profiles 2022, MN 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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