Renville County Broadband Profile: hard work and a new cooperative change everything

renvilleIn 2014, 58 percent of Renville County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 59 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 50 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Renville County and Sibley County have been working on broadband for many years. The counties and town tried working collectively with a Joint Powers agreement on getting broadband to their communities – fiber to the farm they said because they wanted to include areas outside the towns despite the high cost. They had trouble reaching consensus with all communities – specifically Sibley County left the project. That opened the door to a new solution – a cooperative. Since that time they have been working on that solution and it has been working. Here’s a brief outline of the coop from a Daily Yonder article

A unique partnership between RS Fiber and 10 cities is proving successful in Minnesota, which also has restrictions on public networks. The cities sold a General Obligation bond that they used to underwrite a loan to RS Fiber. The co-op leveraged the loan to raise more investment money.

RS Fiber retained Hiawatha Broadband Communications, a local ISP, to oversee all network buildout, operations and marketing. A fiber backbone will connect the 10 towns. During the three years it will take to complete the buildout, the co-op will provide 25-megabit symmetrical wireless and telephone services to the cities. In 2018 RS Fiber will ask the cities to pass another bond to finance the remaining buildout to take in surrounding farmlands. In total the entire network will cover over 600 miles and 2500 farm sites.

They have received positive attention for their work as a coop and most importantly a new tenant – a new Medical School is opening in Gaylord, which is Sibley County but because these counties have worked in tandem. I’m going to mention it here too!

Renville County is going to get some help with a Border to Border grant

In Renville County, Hiawatha Broadband Communications & RS Fiber was awarded $807,966.
This project will serve 193 unserved households, 99 unserved businesses and three community anchor institutions in portions of Preston Lake, Boon Lake, Brookfield, Osceola, Kingman, Winfield, Crooks, Erickson, Sac-red Heart (North), Emmet, Flora, Henry-ville, Norfolk, Birch Cooley, Camp and Cairo townships in Renville County.
Hiawatha Broadband Communications and RS Fiber will provide improved services that officials hope will stimulate business and population growth.
The total eligible project cost is $2.07 million, with a $1.26 million local match.

As they received State help in 2015 as well…

-S Fiber Cooperative, FTTH Project. Awarded $1 million to bring fiber-to-the –home (FTTH) service to 62 unserved and 536 underserved locations in Sibley and Renville counties. Total project costs are $3.32 million; the remaining $2.32 million (70 percent local match) will be provided by a line of credit that R-S Fiber Telcom has committed and partner equity. This 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. Hiawatha Broadband Communications will provide operational capacity.

Community and Economic Development Impact: In 2013, Sibley County was added to the Metropolitan Statistical Area of the Twin Cities. Twin Cities metro regional economic development strategy indicates that access to high-speed fiber networks is a critical component that companies consider when deciding whether to relocate to an area.

Renville County is in line to receive $1,493,456 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 1702 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements.

Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 59.27
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 50.43

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 34.48 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Redwood County Broadband Profile: 41 percent access to speeds of 25/3, engaged but behind

redwoodIn 2014, 63 percent of Redwood County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 41 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 34 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20. So they are slipping.

Redwood has been working on Broadband. They are a Blandin Broadband Community, which means they have been working as a community to increase broadband use and expansion. In 2013, they received a feasibility study that had some recommendations…

It has been the focus of this study for Redwood County is to pursue public/private partnerships, likely with the incumbent service providers. In any scenario, it is likely that the residents of Redwood County will need to contribute, in the form of taxes, in order to make development of a county-wide broadband network attractive to potential partners. Success in grant funding would also be a factor on whether the ultimate FTTH system or an FTTN/DSL system can be built.

Next Steps

1) A first step should include contacting RUS to discuss the project and available RUS loans and grants.

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 is going to get some help with a Border to Border grant

The Arvig awarded project will serve 15 unserved households and 20 unserved businesses near Morgan.
Arvig-Redwood Telephone will improve service levels to this rural area, which is home to Minnesota’s annual Farmfest and relies on quality broadband service for precision agriculture applications and to monitor crops and livestock. The total eligible project cost is $62,218, with a $34,220 local match.

Redwood County is in line to receive $278,818 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 415 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements. Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 41.51
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 34.37

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 34.48 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Red Lake County Broadband Profile: 99 percent have access to 25/3; 48 percent have access to 100/20

In 2014, red-lakemore than 99 percent of Red Lake County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today more than 99 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 48 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Red Lake has been a leader in broadband for many years. They are always one of the top covered counties but it looks like they may need to think about broadband if they want to keep that standing at the 2026 speed goals. The good news is that Red Lake County is served by Garden Valley Telephone, Halsted and Sjoberg’s – all engaged providers. Garden Valley already has some fiber in the area; one hope is that that extend their services and/or that the others upgrade their networks.

Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 99.99
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 48.01

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 34.48 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Ramsey County Broadband Profile: 99 percent served at 25/3 and 100/20 speeds

ramseyIn 2014, 100 percent of Ramsey County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today more than 99 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 99 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

In 2012, Ramsey County was looking at a partnership with a commercial provider to get fiber to government buildings and pull fiber throughout the county with an eye to an open access model that would have invited FTTH options from third party vendors. Instead they went with Comcast

The city of St. Paul will pay Comcast more than $2 million to upgrade the data network connecting more than 100 public buildings to high-speed fiber optic cable.

Since 1998, St. Paul has received network service for free from Comcast as part of a larger agreement that allowed the company to provide cable TV to its residents.

But the network was too slow for transmitting surveillance video to the Police Department or providing decent Internet service to library patrons, said Tarek Tomes, the city’s chief information officer.

“We’re paying zero for a service that really doesn’t meet anyone’s needs,” he said.

Under the deal signed this week, the city also will pay Comcast more than $400,000 a year to provide network service over those connections.

Ramsey County is in line to receive $19,030 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 96 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements. Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 99.75
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 99.39

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 26.57 out of 100.

More info:

  • There is a matrix of Minnesota broadband adoption projects.
  • Districts: CD 4
    Senate: 38, 41, 42, 43, 53, 64, 65, 66, 67
    House: 38A, 41A, 41B, 42A, 42B, 43A, 43B, 53A, 64A, 64B, 65A, 65B, 66A, 66B, 67A, 67B

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Pope County Broadband Profile: 62 percent have access & working on efforts

popeIn 2014, 31 percent of Pope County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 62 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and only 24 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

There has been some action in the community. In 2015

The Pope County Housing and Redevelopment Authority with Economic Development powers (HRA/EDA) approved a payment of up to $3,000 (5-to-1 vote) to bring a fiber optic line to the Massman Automation building in Villard. …

“Currently the speed is 10 megabytes per second download and one megabyte per second upload, which is absolutely inadequate to serve any businesses in this area,” Dreher said.

Dreher said the good news is that Verizon is going to put up a cell tower on Highway 28 near Villard and has selected Runestone Telecom out of Hoffman to provide the fiber optic line for the cell tower. Dreher said he did a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get Runestone to bring the fiber optic line down Grove Avenue so it will go right by Massman.

The fiber optics will provide 100 mbps up/100 mbps down which will greatly improve the service to Massman.

And in 2017

Not everyone in Pope County has access to high-speed Internet, and county officials are working to improve that access and to provide faster speeds in all areas of the county.

The first step in that effort is to determine what areas of the county are lacking access and speed and what residents would like to see improved.  A Pope County Initiative group, headed by Information Technology Director Donna Martin, is currently working to improve Internet access for everyone in the area.  And, to measure the current level of interest in higher speed Internet access, the team is conducting a survey, which is being mailed to every household in the county.  The survey is  designed to get opinions on current and needed Internet access and seeks responses.

But more is needed if they want to meet speed goals in 2022 or 2026.

Pope County is in line to receive $33,275 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 58 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements. Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 62.73
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 24.33

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 43.02 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Polk County Broadband Profile: 98 percent coverage with an engaged provider

polkIn 2014, more than 98 percent of Polk County had access to broadband – due I’m sure in part of receiving a ARRA grant through Halsted Telephone. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 91 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and  81 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Polk is in pretty good shape but they’re heading in the wrong direction. They are losing ground as the definition of broadband changes but they have a provider that is engaged so improvement is likely.

Polk County did benefit from a Border to Border grant through Halsted Telephone in 2014…

Halstad Telephone Co., Halstad Tract MN 11902500 FTTH. Awarded $1.65 million to provide broadband service to 249 unserved locations in Polk County. The full project cost is $3.3 million; the remaining $1.65 million (50 percent) match will be provided by a private investment made by Halstad Telephone. This project surrounds the outskirts of Crookston on all sides except the west side. Halstad’s existing service area will help provide middle mile redundancy to the proposed project area.

Community and Economic Development Impact: The project area is highly agricultural. U.S. Department of Agriculture research shows employment grows faster in counties that have greater broadband Internet access than in similarly situated rural counties without broadband access. The research also states the farm sector is more likely to embed broadband Internet access into productivity, as its basic inputs are more fixed than other sectors of the economy.

Polk County is in line to receive $195,223 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 259 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements. Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • ranking-mower-to-rock
  • served with 100/20 or better: 80.89

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 30.15 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!

Pipestone County Broadband Profile: 79 percent coverage and looking at regional improvements

In 2014, pipestoneless than 57 percent of Pipestone County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 79 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) but only 44 percent have access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Pipestone is looking into options. They held a meeting in November (2016) to discuss the issue…

Sharon Hanson, Pipestone County administrator, said they not only heard from businesses and agri-businesses like Simplot, but from parents and grandparents who live in the technological ‘black hole,’ from educators and students who find it difficult to participate with online classes, and from home-based businesses that rely upon connectivity.

Now Pipestone is partnering with six counties (Lincoln, Murray, Pipestone, Lyon, Yellow Medicine and Chippewa) to do a regional broadband study to determine the feasibility of bringing broadband service to unserved rural areas in the six counties.  

Pipestone County is in line to receive $644,932 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 810 locations. CAF 2 recipients are only required to upgrade to 10/1 access. Many may choose to upgrade to better speeds but there are no requirements. Numbers:

The Office of Broadband Development released data on broadband covered in fall of 2016, based on information gathered in July 2016. Here’s how they ranked:

  • Percentage served with 25/3 or better: 79.36
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 44.54

ranking-mower-to-rock

Mississippi State University Extension have come up with a ranking system to gauge the digital divide index (DDI) by county. (The lower the number the better – the state average is 40.66.) Here’s how they ranked:

DDI score of 45.63 out of 100.

More info:

I plan to profile each county in Minnesota – tracking broadband access, digital divide and annotated links to news of what’s happening with broadband in the county. I’m keeping it high level because there are 87 counties!