Renville County ranks 62 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Despite a region-wide focus on broadband, Renville is unlikely to meet either the 2022 or 2026 MN speed goals. But the region-wide focus on broadband access and adoption will keep the vision alive.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 59.06 51.78 50.43
25/3 (2022 goal) 61.90 55.06 53.10

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Renville County has benefited from three state grants:

  • 2016 – RENVILLE COUNTY HBC & RS FIBER – GRANT: $807,966
    Serving 193 unserved households, 99 unserved businesses, and 3 community anchor institutions in portions of Preston Lake, Boon Lake, Brookfield, Osecola, Kingman, Winfield, Crooks, Erickson, Sacred Heart (North), Emmet, Flora, Henryville, Norfolk, Birch Cooley, Camp, and Cairo Townships in Renville County with service to 1 Gigabit.
  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile
    Grant award: $808,080
    This project is a Middle Mile broadband infrastructure buildout to upgrade backhaul capacity between site locations within 20 southwestern Minnesota counties: Blue Earth, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock, Redwood, Renville, Sibley Swift, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.
  • 2014 – R-S Fiber Cooperative, FTTH Project
    Award: $1 million. Total project cost: $3.32 million. Impact: Service to 62 unserved and 536 underserved locations in Sibley and Renville counties. The project is part of a larger cooperative project estimated at $38.46 million that will upgrade broadband services to several thousand locations in the region.

Renville County (along with Sibley) is another one of the few communities in Minnesota where their broadband story might make a good opera. Ten years ago, residents were getting fed up with poor connectivity.  To address the issue a joint Powers Board was formed that ultimately included all seven cities in Sibley county as well as the city of Fairfax in Renville County.

In 2010, Blandin Foundation awarded the group a feasibility study grant, and the JPB used the study results to educate the public about the need and opportunity for building a world-class network, and to seek financing.

In the fall of 2012, concerned about the project’s plan for how to structure the project’s debt service reserve fund, the Sibley Board of Commissioners, in a 3-2 vote, passed a resolution to withdraw from the JPB.

Undaunted, immediately following this vote, a group of farmers walked across the street and in an impromptu meeting, vowed to continue the effort by “going back to their roots” as one of them said, and form a coop.

RS Fiber Coop hired Hiawatha Broadband Corporation (HBC) to build and operate the gigabit fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) network when the project was launched, and in June of this year, RS Fiber announced the formation of a long-term operating relationship with HBC.

Renville County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Minnesota Valley Tel. Co. (MVTC) and Midco applied to upgrade service in Renville. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 62
  • 25/3 ranking: 81
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 6.6
  • Number of providers: 14

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)

Redwood County ranks 83 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Redwood Falls County is not poised the to meet the state broadband goals for 2022 or 2026. They might be able to get some ideas back from a feasibility study they did in 2013 – work with partners and find funding.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Redwood 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 33.56 33.56 34.37
25/3 (2022 goal) 70.94 72.07 41.80

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

The data seems skewed because after 2017, broadband provider Nuvera provided more granular DSL data. They corrected the speeds.

Redwood County has benefited from MN broadband grants:

  • 2017 – MVTC (Minnesota Valley Telephone Company, Inc.) – Milroy Broadband Project – GRANT $742,365
    Serving 246 unserved households and 22 unserved businesses in the Milroy Broadband Project located in both Redwood and Lyon Counties with service levels to 1 Gbps.
  • 2016 – ARVIG – REDWOOD COUNTY TELEPHONE MIDDLE MILE FIBER EXTENSION – GRANT: $27,998
    Serving 5 unserved households and 20 unserved businesses near Morgan, MN, in an area southeast of Redwood Falls with service levels to 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.
  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile
    Grant award: $808,080
    This project is a Middle Mile broadband infrastructure buildout to upgrade backhaul capacity between site locations within 20 southwestern Minnesota counties: Blue Earth, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock, Redwood, Renville, Sibley Swift, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.

Redwood County was a Blandin Broadband Community  in 2013; they released a feasibility study. While the study is somewhat dated now, one observation remains true

While residents in Redwood Falls have access to multiple broadband providers, the residents in the smaller communities and rural areas have less access to broadband services.

And some of their next steps for action remain apt..

1) A first step should include contacting RUS to discuss the project and available RUS loans and grants. [Might contact MN Office of Broadband Development and ask about Broadband Grants now.]

2) After that, meetings should be scheduled with each potential service provider partner to share the report and discuss cooperative efforts toward entering into a long term agreement.

3) Engaging the League of Minnesota Cities or other organizations that may be useful in determining the best path to choose in organizing Redwood County legally to enter into agreements with RUS and partners.

4) Engaging, local, state, and national politicians and their staff’s may be helpful in gaining support for any non-traditional track to implementing broadband in Redwood County.

Redwood County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Minnesota Valley Tel. Co. (MVTC) applied to upgrade service in Redwood. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 83
  • 25/3 ranking: 75
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 7.5
  • Number of providers: 10

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)

Pope County ranks 54 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Pope County is unlikely to meet the broadband speed goals for 2022 and 2026 without a concerted effort to put into place their 2017 feasibility study (or an updated version).

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Pope 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 68.92 23.67 24.33
25/3 (2022 goal) 76.99 61.27 60.54

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Pope County has benefited from one state broadband grant:

  • 2017 – Hanson Communications – Minnewaska Area FTTP – GRANT $4,996,791
    Serving 274 unserved households and 535 unserved businesses; and 468 underserved households and 181 underserved businesses and 11 underserved community institution in Pope County with service levels to 1Gbps.

Pope County had a feasibility study done in 2017, supported by the Blandin Foundation. They found…

Installing fiber everywhere in the county would cost about $29.3 million, according to the study.  If the combination of wireless and fiber were used, the cost would drop to about $9 million.  And in another scenario, the study excluded the city of Glenwood and used a wireless and fiber combination for the rest of the county and that was estimated to cost about $6.5 million.

They have plans in the works, and that’s a big and necessary space. Now they need to find willing partners and move forward with plans to find a way to get the money necessary to make it happen.

Pope County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Hanson and Arvig applied to upgrade service in Pope. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 54
  • 25/3 ranking: 64
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 6.6
  • Number of providers: 8

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)

Pine County ranks 81 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Pine County is not poised to meet the broadband speed goals for either 2022 or 2026. The whole region of East Central Minnesota is in danger of not meeting the state goals.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Pine 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 37.26 38.18 37.37
25/3 (2022 goal) 58.28 42.84 39.70

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Pine County has benefited from a MN broadband grant:

  • 2017 – SCI (Savage Communications Inc.) — Dell Grove Township Broadband Expansion – GRANT $118,248
    Serving 170 unserved households, 3 unserved businesses, and 1 community anchor institution near and around Grindstone Lake located within Dell Grove Township, Pine County with service levels to 250 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up.

Pine County partnered with rural sections of three neighboring counties to participate as the  Central Woodlands in the 2015-2016 Blandin Broadband Community cohort, which means they have a focus on increasing broadband use in the community.

While countywide there are 8 providers, you can see from the map below that much of Carlton County (and indeed the area) is served by only one provider – and that is a large national provider. It can be a challenge to get a national provider to work in an area with such low population density.

Pine County was a site of a PUC meeting with Frontier, where many angry customers talked about their experience with the company. Meanwhile, Mediacom announced Gigabit upgrades in Pine County, specifically Sturgeon Lake Township and Windemere Township.

Broadband service throughout the county is clearly uneven. At a regional meeting (in 2018) hosted by the Blandin Foundation, one resident gave his view…

It seems like private companies need 15 households per square mile to get necessary ROI.

I’m worried about the kids who live in the areas just out of range of broadband. The libraries are full. The coffee shops are full. They need access. Pine Tech has a computer lab because so many students don’t have access at home.

To make strides forward, Pine County and all of East Central MN, will need to keep working to find a provider to reach their areas that aren’t getting upgraded. The MN broadband grants should help, but first they need a willing partner.

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 81 (down from 68)
  • 25/3 ranking: 84
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant
  • Household density: 7.9
  • Number of providers: 8

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)

Otter Tail ranks 82 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Otter Tail County may be poised to meet broadband speed goals for 2022 but not for 2026. They have received several state broadband grants; one issue may be that the networks built with those grants didn’t necessarily get households to the 2026 speeds. The good news is that the community recognizes the need, but they need to act on it to make a difference.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 35.34 2.36 1.75
25/3 (2022 goal) 92.93 89.56 55.43

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Otter Tail has benefited from several MN broadband grants:

  • 2017 – Arvig – Pelican Rapids rural non-ACAM – GRANT $633,642
    Serving 546 unserved households and 60 unserved businesses in the Pelican Rapids rural area of Otter Tail County with service levels to at least 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload.
  • 2017 – Otter Tail Telcom LLC – Red Oak Drive – GRANT $173,683
    Serving 7 unserved households and 2 unserved businesses, and 29 underserved households and 2 underserved businesses north of the city of Fergus Falls in Otter Tail County with service levels to 25/3 Mbps.
  • 2017 – WCTA (West Central Telephone Association) – Wadena Rural Phase III – GRANT $874,581
    Serving 189 unserved households and 13 unserved businesses within Compton Township in Otter Tail County as well as portions of Wadena Township in Wadena County and in Stowe Prairie Township in Todd County with service levels to 1 Gbps.
  • 2016 – OTTER TAIL TELCOM BATTLE LAKE – GRANT: $ 238,170
    Serving 62 unserved households in the Clitherall and Battle Lake areas in Ottertail County with service of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps.
  • 2016 – OTTER TAIL TELCOM FERGUS FALLS AREA – GRANT: $ 279,271
    Serving 79 unserved households near Elizabeth, MN, and in rural Fergus Falls in Ottertail County, MNwith services at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
  • 2016 – WCTA WADENA RURAL NORTH — GRANT: $718,850
    Serving 174 unserved households, 13 unserved businesses, and 2 community anchor institutions in Otter Tail County with service levels to 1 Gigabit.
  • 2015 – Otter Tail Telcom Fergus Falls 864 – Hwy 59
    Grant award: $295,432
    Serving 63 locations, including 56 households and 7 businesses and one cell tower in the vicinity of Fergus Falls near Hwy 59.
  • 2015 – Otter Tail Telcom Hwy 59/94 PRT to POM
    Grant award: $164,207
    Serving 21 households and multiple community institutions. Areas north and south of Elizabeth, MN along Hwy 59 are included.
  • 2014 – Otter Tail Telcom, Stuart Lake
    Award: $105,364. Total project cost: $210,729. Impact: service to 47 unserved locations near Stuart Lake, just north of State Highway 210 and east of Fergus Falls.
  • 2014 – Otter Tail Telcom, 245th
    Award: $108,553. Total project cost: $217,105. Impact: service to 39 unserved locations.

Last year, Otter Tail County ranked dead last for 100/20 broadband access; they are in much better shape for access to 25/3 – but that won’t build to the future. At the end of 2018, with support from the Blandin Foundation, they looked at their situation and have been working to make it better. In early 2019, Otter Tail County officials spoke to MN Legislators about the need for better broadband…

The Association of Minnesota Counties Legislative Conference was a successful event for Otter Tail County. Otter Tail County officials had the opportunity to meet with Representative Nornes, Representative Green, Representative Franson, Senator Ingebrigtsen, DNR Commissioner Strommen, and Representative Mary Murphy, Minnesota House Bonding Chair,” said Rick West, Otter Tail County Public Works Director. “These meetings provided us the ability to engage in constructive one to one conversation on legislative priorities that are important to Minnesota counties and more specifically important to Otter Tail County during this legislative session such as broadband, multi-modal transportation funding, mental health initiatives among others.”

Otter Tail County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Meeker Coop and Otter Tail Telecom applied to upgrade service in Otter Tail. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 82
  • 25/3 ranking: 25
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 10.8
  • Number of providers: 11

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)

Norman County ranks 85 (out of 87) for broadband speeds 100/20: code red

Norman County is likely to meet the state speed goals for 2022 but not for 2026. They are in a precarious position because they are well situated for access to 25/3 and have dismal access to 100/20. In order to not be left behind by 2026 they’ll have to work hard against a false sense of accomplishment.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Norman 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 20.62 20.55 20.52
25/3 (2022 goal) 98.45 98.02 37.67

In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) included Norman County as one of the few non-competitive counties in Minnesota for broadband access; which means half the locations with demand for the services don’t have a competitive provider located within at least half a mile, or 75 percent of the census blocks don’t have the presence of a cable provider.

Norman County does not have many wired providers, but they do have a few that offer 2026 speeds (Garden Valley Telephone Company and Halstad Telephone Company). They will need to work to get these providers to expand service or work with others to upgrade their service to meet the needs of the county.

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 85 (down from 80)
  • 25/3 ranking: 12
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 3.3
  • Number of providers: 4

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)

Murray County ranks 69 (out of 87) for broadband speed 100/20: code red

Murray County is not poised to reach the state broadband goals for 2022 or 2026. However, they are supporting Lismore’s 2019 MN broadband grant proposal, which would help.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Murray 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 51.59 50.78 41.65
25/3 (2022 goal) 65.37 51 50.90

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Murray has benefited from one MN broadband grant:

  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile
    Grant award: $808,080
    This project is a Middle Mile broadband infrastructure buildout to upgrade backhaul capacity between site locations within 20 southwestern Minnesota counties : Blue Earth, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock, Redwood, Renville, Sibley Swift, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.

In 2018, with support from the Blandin Foundation, released a feasibility study that is not promising…

Our analysis shows that it is not economically feasible to build fiber everywhere in the rural parts of the county using the existing Border-to-Border grant program—the 50% grant matching in that program is not high enough to create a sustainable network. However, it would be possible to fund fiber using these grants if the percent of the grant matching is increased above the 50% level used in awarding these grants today. It might also be feasible to build the fiber in stages over multiple years to get the needed grant funding.

It is likely to be a challenge for a service provider to building fiber today since almost all of the rural area is served with newly-built fixed wireless technology that is capable of delivering speeds of at least 25 Mbps download. Any potential fiber provider is going to worry that many households will be satisfied with that level of broadband speed.

Bearing that in mind in September 2019, Murray County committed up to $200,000, which could be taken from the county’s Economic Development Authority revolving loan fund, to a grant application prepared by Lismore Coop Telephone Company of Lismore.

Bearing that in mind in September 2019, Murray County committed up to $200,000, which could be taken from the county’s Economic Development Authority revolving loan fund, to support Lismore Coop’s  grant application to the state fund.

Murray County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Lismore applied to upgrade service in Murray. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 69 (down from 51
  • 25/3 ranking: 80
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 5.2
  • Number of providers: 5

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)

Morrison County ranks 53 (out of 87) for broadband at speeds of 100/20: code red

Morrison County is not poised to make the state speed goals for 2022 or 2026 but they recently saw an increase in access. If they can build on that momentum, they will come closer to the goals.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 69.94 42.74 28.83
25/3 (2022 goal) 76 71.04 69.24

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Morrison County is part of the Resilient Region and has been included in their research and Blandin Broadband Community (BBC) activities

Research unveiled at the conference found that, combined, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties could see more than $78.6 million in economic benefits over 15 years if broadband access and use improved. Tech expert Robert Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, produced profiles of all Minnesota counties using his Digital Divide Index.

Morrison County benefited from three MN broadband grants:

  • 2017 – Benton Cooperative Telephone Company – Rice Ramey – GRANT $765,015
    Serving 250 unserved households and 73 unserved businesses in the area northeast of Rice in Benton and Morrison Counties with services of 100 Mbps download by 20 Mbps upload.
  • 2016 – BENTON COOPERATIVE TELEPHONE COMPANY BUCKMAN – GRANT: $276,230
    Serving 130 unserved households, 17 unserved businesses and 1 community anchor institution in the city of Buckman and sections of Buckman and Morrill Townships in Morrison with service levels to 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps up.  
  • 2014 – Consolidated Telephone Cooperative, Region 5 Virtual Highway Project
    Award: $2 million. Total project cost: $4.22 million. Impact: Service to 247 unserved and 90 underserved premises in Cass, Crow Wing and Morrison counties.

Morrison County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Benton Coop applied to upgrade service in Morrison. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 53 (up from 59)
  • 25/3 ranking: 65
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 11.3
  • Number of providers: 11

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)

Meeker County ranks 74 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Meeker County is not poised to meet the state broadband speed goals for either 2022 or 2026. They recognize the need for improvement, now they need to move forward working with broadband providers.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Meeker 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 45.08 45.08 38.13
25/3 (2022 goal) 71.72 71.45 45.50

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Meeker County has benefited from one MN broadband grant:

  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile
    Grant award: $808,080
    This project is a Middle Mile broadband infrastructure buildout to upgrade backhaul capacity between site locations within 20 southwestern Minnesota: Blue Earth, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock, Redwood, Renville, Sibley Swift, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.

In 2017, Meeker County released a broadband feasibility study, with Blandin Foundation’s support. They gave an update in 2018

Two years ago, businesses thought they were fine with existing broadband. Now they need more. We need to focus on future needs to create a solution for today and tomorrow. …

What are the barriers in place? The technology required is based on needs of the users. Is there a possibility for dark fiber, a cooperative model, partnerships, shared use of conduit, future planning… But we need to build demand to make sure we maximize use and ROI.

There was a great recognition of the future need for broadband…

“In 10 or 15 years, we’re going to be at the point where dial-up internet used to be,” Krueger said. “This analysis is all about what your businesses need for the future.”

Meeker County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Meeker Coop applied to upgrade service in Meeker. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 74 (down from 57)
  • 25/3 ranking: 73
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 14.2
  • Number of providers: 12

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)

Mille Lacs ranks 67 (out of 87) for broadband at 100/20 speeds: code red

Mille Lacs County is not poised to meet the broadband speed goals for 2022 or 2026.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Mille Lacs 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 52.77 54.42 47.07
25/3 (2022 goal) 83.86 62.00 47.57

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Mille Lacs County has been working on broadband for a while. They were part of the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) initiative from 2012-2014 when much of the community admittedly went from not knowing what broadband was to needing it. In 2015, they released a feasibility study.

Mille Lacs County benefited from one MN broadband grant:

  • 2016 – BENTON COOPERATIVE TELEPHONE COMPANY BOCK – GRANT: $510,000
    Serving 337 unserved households, 37 unserved businesses and 1 community anchor institution in the city of Bock and portions of Hayland and Borgholm Townships in Mille Lacs County with service levels to 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.

They applied for more funding in 2017 but didn’t get it. They need to continue to build partnerships and apply for future funding.

Mille Lacs County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Advantenon applied to upgrade service in Mille Lacs. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 67 (down from 49)
  • 25/3 ranking: 46
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 14.9
  • Number of providers: 9

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)

McLeod County ranks 63 (out of 87) for broadband at 100/20: code red

McLeod is not poised to meet the MN broadband goals for either 2022 or 2026. They are in a difficult position because they have such a mixed bag of service levels across the county.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 58.59 58.57 56.92
25/3 (2022 goal) 81.01 83.53 83.10

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

In February 2018, the Blandin Foundation held a meeting in the region to talk about broadband, where there was a glimpse of the situation in the county…

They don’t have an economic development department to work on broadband. So no one seems to be championing the effort on a county-wide basis. BUT, as part of RS Fiber, two cities are getting connectivity (FTTH). Hutchinson has cable and halfway decent speeds – but outside of Hutchinson, the county is not well served. There was a MN State grant in 2014 just outside the city of Hutchinson via New Ulm Telecom.

In summer 2019, RS Fiber announced completed construction of gigabit FTTP networks in 10 communities located in Renville, Sibley, McLeod, and Nicollet Counties of west central Minnesota. Hopefully we’ll see the impact of that in the next mapping.

To meet the state’s broadband speed goals, McLeod will want to look at starting or joining a concerted effort to improve broadband because, while they see incremental increase in access, their ranking is dropping, which means other counties are doing better.

McLeod County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Nuvera Communications, Winsted Telephone Company and Winthrop Telephone Company applied to upgrade service in McLeod. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 63 (down from 43)
  • 25/3 ranking: 55
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 28.9
  • Number of providers: 11

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)

Martin County ranks 64 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code red

Martin County is not poised to meet the state speed goals for either 2022 or 2026. What’s unfortunate is that they have seen an increased in access to 25/3, but not 100/20. That means they have “upgrading” to a speed that will not meet the 2026 goals. But two local providers have announced plans to make additional upgrades, and that may help.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Martin 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 55.22 54.80 54.06
25/3 (2022 goal) 80.29 56.38 55.64

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Martin County has benefited with three state grants:

  • 2017- BEVCOMM (Granada Telephone Company) — Granada Rural Final – GRANT: $202,410
    Serving 35 unserved households and 21 unserved businesses in the rural Granada area located in Martin County with service levels to 1 Gbps.
  • 2016 – GRANADA TELEPHONE COMPANY (DBA BEVCOMM) SOUTH RURAL GRANADA – GRANT:  $157,920
    Serving 26 unserved households and 14 unserved businesses in the rural Granada area in Martin County with service levels to 1 Gigabit.
  • 2016 – MARTIN COUNTY (WITH FRONTIER) RURAL BROADBAND INITIATIVE – GRANT: $1,677,823
    Serving 1784 unserved households, 51 unserved businesses, and 9 unserved community institutions across Martin County with service levels to a minimum of 25 Mbps download by 3 Mbps.

Martin County was a 2015-2016 Blandin Broadband Community  and through that partnership they had a feasibility study done in 2017. It seems that Martin County is in a position that other rural counties may find themselves…

Martin County is in a challenging position. The two largest cities – Fairmont and Sherburn, along with the community Granada and its surrounding rural area, are relatively well connected. However, the remaining rural areas and communities throughout the county in some cases have no access to any broadband options at all. The digital divide challenges any provider to build a business case for expanding service offerings in the rural areas.

In early 2019, Martin County learned that both Frontier (using grant mentioned above) and Bevcomm had plans for broadband improvements…

Bevcomm recently purchased part of Hanson Communications territory in Southern Minnesota and plans to begin installing broadband fiber to help serve Truman, Trimont and Welcome.

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 64 (down from 48)
  • 25/3 ranking: 57
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 12.4
  • Number of providers: 4

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)

Marshall County ranks 66 (out of 87) for broadband 100/20: code red

Marshall County is not poised to meet the state speed goals for either 2022 or 2026. They have received several grants that have helped get service to the area. Part of the problem is that they started with low access to 100/20. The good news is that access to 100/20 is nearly keeping pace with access to 25/3. So the access they are getting is good, but it’s slow going and that is creating a culture of broadband haves and have-nots. They need to continue to get funding to meet the speed goals.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Marshall 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 53.08 48.20 9.2
25/3 (2022 goal) 56.11 50.84 33.49

Marshall County has benefited from five state grants:

  • 2017 – Wikstrom Telephone – Wiktel NW MN Broadband – GRANT $1,307,785
    Serving 300 unserved homes and 31 unserved business locations in Kittson, Marshall, and Roseau counties with  service levels to 1 Gbps down and up.
  • 2016 – GARDEN VALLEY TELEPHONE COMPANY RURAL THIEF RIVER FALLS EAST – GRANT: $2,027,035
    Serving 330 unserved households, 23 unserved businesses, and 2 community anchor institutions in rural Thief River Falls in northwestern Minnesota with service levels to 1 Gigabit per second up and down.
  • 2016 – WIKSTROM TELEPHONE COMPANY (WITH BEAMCO, INC.) RURAL ALVARADO – GRANT: $43,481
    Serving 11 unserved households and 1 unserved business in the Alvarado area, in a remote part of Marshall County with service levels to 1 Gigabit.
  • 2016 – WIKSTROM TELEPHONE COMPANY WIKTEL NW MN – GRANT: $950,823
    Serving 236 unserved households and 26 unserved business in rural sparsely populated areas in Kittson, Marshall, Roseau, and Lake of the Woods counties with service levels to 1 Gigabit.
  • 2014 – Wikstrom Telephone, Kittson, Marshall, Roseau Broadband Extension
    Award: $425,000. Total project cost: $943,827. Impact: Service to 73 unserved and 43 underserved homes in Kittson, Marshall and Roseau counties

Marshall is getting FCC funding over the next 10 years. In April (2019), Vast Broadband launched Gig access in Marshall, Pipestone and Worthington counties. It will be interesting to see the impact that will have on the overall county strides toward 2026 speed goals.

Marshall County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Wikstrom Telephone Company applied to upgrade service in Marshall. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 66
  • 25/3 ranking: 87
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 2.2
  • Number of providers: 3

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)

Mahnomen County ranks 86 (out of 87) for broadband 100/20: code red

Mahnomen County is not poised to meet the speed goals for 2022 or 2026. They are near the bottom of the list and without a concerted effort they will not come close.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Mahnomen 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 17.31 13.53 13.03
25/3 (2022 goal) 89.87 76.93 72.42

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Mahnomen has decent coverage for 25/3 access, which may leave residents to think that they are not in need of improvement, but they are not in line to meet the 2026 goals.

They have benefited from one MN broadband grant:

  • 2017 – Garden Valley Telephone Company – Bejou – GRANT $1,304,421
    Serving 214 unserved households, 17 unserved businesses, and 7 unserved community anchor institutions in Bejou and surrounding rural areas within Mahnomen County, including portions of the White Earth Reservation with service levels to 1 Gbps down and 1 Gbps up.

Mahnomen County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Arvig applied to upgrade service in Mahnomen. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 86
  • 25/3 ranking: 34
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 3.5
  • Number of providers: 9

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)

Lincoln County ranks 76 (out of 87) for broadband 100/20: code red

Lincoln County is currently not poised to meet the state speed goals for either 2012 or 2016. But they have  momentum that began last fall and has spurred a relationship with a local provider that may increase their odds, especially if they are able to get a MN broadband grant.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 39.21 39.21 40
25/3 (2022 goal) 59.70 53.44 53.44

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Lincoln has benefited from two state broadband grants:

  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile
    Grant award: $808,080
    This project is a Middle Mile broadband infrastructure buildout to upgrade backhaul capacity between site locations within 20 southwestern Minnesota counties: Blue Earth, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock, Redwood, Renville, Sibley Swift, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.
  • 2014 – Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative (ITC), Hendricks Town FTTP
    Award: $700,000. Total project cost: $1.87 million. Impact: Service to 377 homes and farms, 57 businesses and eight community institutions, all currently underserved.

With help from the Blandin Foundation, Lincoln released a feasibility study in 2018. The report discusses next steps for the county, such as looking for a partner to bring broadband to those areas without it today.

In spring of 2019, Lincoln County Board gave a green light to a county-wide grant application aimed at funding for broadband Internet access. They approved a grant application to the state’s broadband grant fund for a total of $10.5 million. All except $2 million would come from outside funding sources. The county would issue bonds for its matching share.

Early in 2019, Woodstock Communications announced plans to deploy fiber in the city of Tyler during the course of  the year.

Lincoln County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, Interstate Telecommunications Coop applied to upgrade service in Lincoln. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 76
  • 25/3 ranking: 83
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 4.7
  • Number of providers: 7

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)