Freeborn County ranks 25 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code yellow

The historical numbers for Freeborn County are unreliable. The numbers from 2017 reflect wireless connections and the more recent don’t but the difference seems to reflect more than that. It is clear that they will need a concerted effort to meet the 2022 and 2026 goals.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Freeborn 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 83.88 34.18 94.59
25/3 (2022 goal) 87.92 84.31 99.44

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Freeborn has benefited from three MN broadband grants:

  • 2017 – BEVCOMM (Cannon Valley Telephone) – Freeborn Southwest Rural Final – GRANT $122,460
    Serving 15 unserved households and 17 unserved businesses in the rural Freeborn area, in Freeborn County, completing a Border-to-Border grant build begun there two years ago..
  • 2016 – CANNON VALLEY TELECOM, INC. (DBA BEVCOMM) RURAL FREEBORN – GRANT:  $150,700
    Serving 10 unserved households, 6 unserved businesses, 9 underserved households, and 6 underserved businesses in the rural Freeborn area in Freeborn County in Southern Minnesota with access of 1 Gigabit per second up and down, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal.
  • 2015 – BEVCOMM Cannon Valley Telecom – Rural Freeborn Fiber-to-the-Premises Project
    Grant award: $149,625
    Serving 43 households and 1 business in the rural Freeborn area, in Freeborn County in south-central Minnesota, close to the Minnesota/Iowa border.

Freeborn is also getting almost $2 million in FCC funding but that is over the next 10 years.

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 25 (up from 71)
  • 25/3 ranking: 39
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 18.2
  • 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)

Crow Wing ranks 21 (out of 87) for broadband speeds of 100/20: code yellow

Crow Wing County looks like they could meet the speeds goals with some concerted effort. Actually the 2026 goal seems more likely than 2022. What is inspiring is the progress they have made since last year – from 42 percent coverage to 88 percent.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Crow Wing 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 88.04 41.66 33.13
25/3 (2022 goal) 92.84 92.29 87.78

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Crow Wing has benefited from three MN broadband grants:

  • 2016 – TDS TELECOM CASS & CROW WING COUNTIES — GRANT: $3,000,000
    Serving 3459 unserved households, 62 unserved businesses, and 4 community anchor institutions in Cass and Crow Wing counties in north central Minnesota including Backus, Hackensack, Ideal Corners, Pequot Lakes, Pine River, and Woman Lake. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, TDS Telecom (dba Arvig Telephone Company) will improve unserved levels to the 2022 state speed goal of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
  • 2015 – Consolidated Telecommunications Company – Fort Ripley Phase II
    Grant award: $759,525
    Consolidated Telecommunication Company will build out broadband infrastructure in the Fort Ripley area adjacent to Highway 371 to provide state speed goal broadband service and above to an additional 272 households.
  • 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.

Crow Wing was a Blandin Broadband Community as part of the Region 5 (the Resilient Region) 2015-2016 cohort.

Crow Wing County was one of the communities studied  as part of Blandin Foundation’s 2017Measuring Community ROI report . The following public investments have been made:

  • $5 million bonding for schooltechnology (2002)
  • $5 million ARRA funding to serve Crow Wing and Cass
  • $2 million Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Grant (2015) to CTC to serve Crow Wing and Cass
  • $3 million Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Grant (2016) to TDS to serve Crow Wing and Cass
  • $123,450 from Blandin Foundation to support broadband adoption projects in the Resilient Region, which includes Crow Wing County
  • Total: $15,123,450

Using formulas devised to measure the impact of broadband access, Crow Wing has the potential to realize from this investment:

  • A combined household economic benefit of broadband of $67,412,150 annually
  • A combined increase in residential real estate value of $214,662,149

In September 2019, Senator Klobuchar’s staff held a listening session in Crow Wing County. They spoke with a local provider (CTC) about the need for government support to build networks in rural areas. CTC pointed out that when funding is slowed, it slows down the process of getting access to everyone.

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

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 21 (up 40 places)
  • 25/3 ranking: 26
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 22.5
  • 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)

Clearwater County ranks 17 (of 87) for access to 100/20 broadband: code yellow

Clearwater County is likely to meet the state speed goals for 2022; but the outlook isn’t as clear for 2026.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Clearwater 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 89.3 89.3 73.41
25/3 (2022 goal) 99.74 99.58 99.58

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Clearwater has been well poised for broadband for several years, but there has been little improvement in the last couple years. There is almost ubiquitous coverage for 25/3 access but they need more to reach the 2026 goals.

In 2018, Garden Valley Telephone Company received a $20 million loan from the USDA to make system improvements (fiber-optic facilities and construct fiber-to-the-premises) in Polk, Clearwater, Pennington, Marshall and Red Lake counties, and in the vacation resort areas of Maple Lake and Union Lake. That may be the leap the county needs to close the gap for the 2026 goal.

There are 7 providers in Clearwater, but you can see from the map below that much of Clearwater County is served by only one provider and that is not a national provider. It can be difficult to persuade a national provider to upgrade in areas where the business case is not clear. But there is (at least) one area where there is competition. There are several providers in the county that provide speeds to meet the 2026 goals. It’s a matter of working with those providers to encourage upgrades in the areas that are currently underserved.

Clearwater has not benefited from a MN broadband grant – yet. The grant program has prioritized geographic diversity among awardees but there were no applications submitted for 2019 that might help.

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 17 (down 4 places)
  • 25/3 ranking: 4
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 3.4
  • 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)

Clay County ranks 29 (out of 87) for access to 100/20 broadband: code yellow

Clay County may reach the 2022 speed goals but seems unlikely to meet the 2026 goals that being said, they have made bold leaps in the past. They will need another leap to get to the 2026 goals.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Clay 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 82.32 82.52 74.13
25/3 (2022 goal) 95.82 95.45 83.15

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Back in 2010, Clay County made the list of the nine unserved counties in Minnesota based on the FCC Annual Broadband Report, which defined broadband as 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Clearly Clay County has improved since then. Maybe proximity to North Dakota has helped, but again they will need a push like they had 10 years ago.

In 2018, Red River Valley Coop got $1.5 million USDA loan going into the area for smartgrid development; perhaps that investment can be used to leverage future broadband builds. Short of that, the county will need to mount  a concerted effort to close the gaps to the 2026 state speed goal.

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

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 29 (down 10 places)
  • 25/3 ranking: 18
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 21.2
  • 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)

Chisago County ranks 51 (out of 87) for access to 100/20 broadband: code yellow

Chisago County seems unlikely to meet the 2022 or 2026 MN speed goals but Chicago County has also been known to form creative partnerships and they have been making a concerted effort for better broadband. They are increasing their access but not as fast as other counties.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Chisago 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 71.26 69.53 65.25
25/3 (2022 goal) 83.85 73.27 65.25

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Chisago County was a 2015-2016 Blandin Broadband Community; they have been working to encourage broadband use, including by conducting a county-wide broadband  market survey in 2016; communities in Chisago have used that survey or similar surveys to create MN state broadband grant applications. Working at the community level rather than county-wide  has opened the door to working with incumbent providers.

In 2018, a Blandin Foundation report looked at the impact of Federal CAF II funding in two towns in Chisago, Isanti and Kanabec Counties: Lindstrom and Braham. CAF II money went to qualifying providers to subsidize network deployments that can deliver service of at least 10/1. The study found that while some areas were upgraded beyond that speed; some remain at speeds that do not meet the 2022 nor 2026 MN broadband goals. Chisago found a way, in at least some areas, to encourage providers to build to higher speeds – by pursuing state grants that require higher speed buildouts.

Chisago County has  benefited from two MN broadband grants:

2017 – CenturyLink – Fish Lake Township FTTH Project – GRANT $1,833,724

  • Serving 919 unserved households, 7 unserved businesses, and one unserved community anchor institution in Fish Lake Township in rural Chisago County. In a funding partnership leveraging federal (CAF II), state grant and local township funding, CenturyLink will improve broadband service levels to 1 Gbps down and 1 Gbps up, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal.
  • 2016 – SUNRISE TOWNSHIP (CENTURYLINK) FIBER TO THE HOME – GRANT: $1,074,852
    Serving 584 unserved households, 10 unserved businesses, and 2 community anchor institutions in rural Sunrise Township in Chisago County, MN. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota and Sunrise Township, CenturyLink will leverage CAFII funding from the FCC to bring 1 Gigabit service to two-thirds of the township, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal of 100 Mbps by 20 Mbps.

Both grant projects were unique in that they used state funding to leverage CAF II money to reach state speed goals (100/20) versus CAF II speed requirements (10/1). Sunrise built a model of citizen engagement, where the community came to the providers with a proposal and community investment.

Chisago could get to full coverage incrementally, but they’ll have to keep at it.

Chisago County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, CenturyLink and CTC applied to upgrade service in Franconia Township in Chisago COunty. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 51 (down from 32)
  • 25/3 ranking: 47
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 44
  • Number of providers: 7

Details:

  • Chisago Countyhas worked with the Blandin Foundation
  • There is a matrix of Minnesota broadband adoption projects conducted with the support of Blandin Foundation; it includes projects from this area.
  • Districts: CD 8
    Senate: 32 & 39
    House: 32A, 32B, 39A
  • Find your reps

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)

Chippewa County ranks 31 (out of 87) for access to 100/20 broadband: code yellow

Chippewa County made a huge leap in the last year, going from 25 percent 100/20 access  in 2018 to  82 percent with 100/20 access now. They might appear to be lagging in 25/3 access  compared to other counties, But one benefit for  Chippewa is that almost everyone who has broadband, has good broadband. That makes it much less likely that a portion of the population will have to move forward being underserved. However, it will take a concerted push to meet the 2022 and 2026 speed goals.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Chippewa 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 81.70 24.80 24.45
25/3 (2022 goal) 83.23 72.33 72.28

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

In 2015, Chippewa was one of twenty counties in southwestern Minnesota to benefit from a state grant:,.

 

  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile
    Grant award: $808,080
    A Middle Mile broadband infrastructure buildout to upgrade backhaul capacity between site locations within 20 southwestern Minnesota counties that will improve services to state speed goal levels and above to 6,000 households and businesses that are current MVTV customers, with leverage possibility of 29,000 more. The counties are: 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.

With financial support from Blandin Foundation, in 2018, Chippewa County released a feasibility study that details a plan for the future, assuming they are able to get a state broadband grant…

We view the hybrid fiber and wireless solution as a great first step towards improving broadband. This option would bring fiber immediately to about a third of the rural homes in the county, including the town of Watson. The fiber constructed for this scenario is a first step in getting fiber closer to everybody in the county. We think a reasonable business plan is to start with the hybrid option and extend fiber to everybody over time.

Our analysis shows that it is not economically feasible to build fiber everywhere in the county using the existing Border-to-Border grant program—the 50% grant matching in that program is not enough to create a sustainable network. However, the hybrid fiber and wireless solutions all look to be economically viable.

The report suggests possible next steps, such as looking for a partner to bring broadband to those areas without it today. The goal would be to have a partner by next year to be ready for future state grant funds.

There’s a plan and they benefited from improved access in the past; they just need to execute again.

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

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 31 (up 15)
  • 25/3 ranking: 49
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 8.9
  • 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)

Carver County ranks 23 (out of 87) for access to 100/20 broadband: code yellow

Carver County is a fairly metro county so the market will take care of most of the county but they will need help in areas with lower population density. It seems likely that they will meet the 2022 speed goals; the 2026 goals are not as certain.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Carver 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 92.14 89.81 98.51
25/3 (2022 goal) 98.8 98.87 97.56

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Carver County has had the underpinings of a strong broadband county since 2013. They received ARRA funding for Carverlink, a publicly owned 89-mile base ring with 33 miles of lateral lines. It was completed in Fall of 2013.

Carverlink has left them in good shape, but not enough has happened since then. They will need to make a concerted effort to get to ubiquitous coverage.

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

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 23 (up 6 places)
  • 25/3 ranking: 28
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 87.4
  • Number of providers: 16

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)

Blue Earth County: ranks 39 (out of 87) for access to 100/20: code yellow

Blue Earth County is in danger of not making either the 2022 or 2026 MN speed goals. Anomalies in the data available makes it difficult to assess with confidence. In 2017, Blue Earth was deemed non-competitive for business by the FCC. There has been improvement, but they need more.

They are in a position where most of the broadband they have is good broadband (100/20) but with almost 80 percent coverage, they are in danger of losing public interest before there is ubiquitous coverage.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Blue Earth 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 77.91 14.13 55.6
25/3 (2022 goal) 78.33 77.95 88.35

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

In 2015, Blue Earth was among twenty counties in southwestern Minnesota to benefit from a MN state broadband:

  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile
    Grant award: $808,080
    A Middle Mile broadband infrastructure buildout to upgrade backhaul capacity between site locations within 20 southwestern Minnesota counties that will improve services to state speed goal levels and above to 6,000 households and businesses that are current MVTV customers, with leverage possibility of 29,000 more. The counties are: 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. conjunction with existing and identified fiber points of presence, MVTV will enhance wireless backhaul aggregation links in select areas. The project deployment consists of 58 11GHz licensed radio links. Radio full duplex capacity will reach a maximum scalable throughput in excess of 1Gbps download and 1Gbps upload .

Blue Earth is also getting almost $2 million in FCC funding, spread out  over the next ten years.

At the end of 2018, Blue Earth County Board resolved to kickstart efforts to bring more broadband options and data fiber connections to the area. In April 2019, they were awarded funding from the Blandin Foundation for a broadband feasibility study, which has been used to help support applications  to the state broadband grant program.

Blue Earth County could benefit from future grants. In 2019, MidCo applied to upgrade service around Mapleton. (That doesn’t mean they will get the grant; they have only applied.)

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 39 (from 83)
  • 25/3 ranking: 61
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 31.9
  • Number of providers: 13

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)

Benton County: ranks 20 (out of 87) for access to 100/20: code yellow

The “most improved” award goes to Benton County. They went from 26 percent access to 100/20 in 2018 to 88 percent access. They still need to make a concerted effort to meet the 2022 and 2026 goals, but most of the people with access have good access (100/20) and they had good momentum – unfortunately, we haven’t noted much activity in the last year.

Percentage of Served Population by Speed and Date
Benton 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 88.18 25.83 14.28
25/3 (2022 goal) 91.47 87.49 87.61

Green=served Purple=underesrved Red=unserved

Benton County participated in Blandin Foundation’s federally-funded (American Recovery and Reconstruction Act) Minnesota Intelligent Rural Community (MIRC) program from 2009-2012.  They have been strong with wireless connectivity, but it seems as  the grants they have received have spurred significant progress towards the o 2026 speed goals.

Benton has benefited from several 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 improved broadband service levels that meet or exceed the 2026 state goal of 100 Mbps download by 20 Mbps upload. This includes Langola, Graham and sections 5 and 6 of Mayhew Lake Townships, all located in Benton County.

2017 – Palmer Wireless – Duelm Hwy 95 – GRANT $162,814
Serving 60 unserved households and 21 unserved businesses near the town of Duelm in southern Benton County, using Fiber to the Home technology capable of delivering 1 Gbps speeds up and down. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Palmer Wireless will upgrade its wireless customers, and improve broadband service levels for others along the route, through a fiber network capable of meeting and exceeding the 2026 state speed goal.

2014- CenturyLink Foley, Benton County–Balkan Township
Award: $382,883. Total project cost: $995,977. Impact: Service to 162 unserved households, 10 businesses, several community facilities.

Checklist:

  • 100/20 ranking: 20 (up from 75!)
  • 25/3 ranking: 31
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 36.5
  • 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)