Steele County Broadband Profile: Well served with 99 access to 25/3 and 95 access to 100/20

In 2014, steelemore than 99 percent of Steele 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 more than 95 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Nearing the end of looking at every county, I’ve noticed some patterns – one is that there are a few counties that are well served and I never hear anything about them. Steele County is one of those. It always makes me wonder who the provider is. If a provider is focused on providing fast service; it gets done, often with little fanfare. Sadly the same isn’t true of a community. Community members can focus all they want, if the provider isn’t interested it’s difficult to make it happen. I hear about those communities.

The Office of Broadband Development has a list providers by counties, including the maximum download and upload speeds. Here are the providers that serve the area with reportedly faster access than 100/20:

  • CenturyLink – with DSL 105/40
  • Jaguar – with fiber 1000/100
  • Mediacom – with cable 150/20
  • Midcontinent Communications – with 200/20
  • Radio Link Internet – with fixed wireless 100/100

Steele County is in line to receive $1,612,611 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 2645 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: 99.86
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 95.64

ranking-roseau-to-yellow-medicine

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 30.80 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!

Stearns County Broadband Profile: 87 percent access to 25/3; 38 percent access to 100/20 but grants will help

stearnsIn 2014, 92 percent of Stearns County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 87 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 38 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

They are going the wrong direction but State grants will help.

In 2015, the St Cloud Times took a good look at broadband in Stearns County, outing services offered by the local providers. It is informative to look at the range (remember this is from 2015!)…

In the middle of 2014, Midcontinent doubled connection speeds for its customers, partly as a test, Simmons said. Channel-bonding technology allowed the company to change the 30 Mbps service most customers received to 60 Mbps, 50 to 100, and so on.

With a $75 million investment, the company is going to keep increasing speeds. Its Gigabit Initiative will bring 1 Gbps connections to all business and home consumers in the Upper Midwest by sometime in 2017, Simmons said.

Midcontinent uses hybrid fiber-coaxial technology to deliver Internet service.

CenturyLink also uses fiber to deliver service to residential areas and DSL in the home, according to Rachel Woodman, market development manager. The company has almost entirely abandoned copper in favor of fiber, a technology experiencing a CenturyLink “build-up” in the St. Cloud area. Woodman said the majority of Central Minnesota customers have connections of up to 40 Mbps available.

Charter Communications connects customers to the Internet through its coaxial cable lines and in-home modems.

Paul Bunyan Communications announced in late summer it has started construction on a fiber network in the Bemidji area that will bring connections with speeds up to 1 Gbps to customers. Some locations will receive the service this year, with the entire 5,000-square-mile service area being covered in coming years.

Some area companies, such as Skynet Broadband Inc. and CitEscape High Speed Internet, both based in St. Cloud, offer fixed wireless connections, the speeds of which are increasing along with in-ground technologies.

John Townsend, sales and marketing director for SkyNet, said starting now in January, the new SkyNet tower in Waite Park will connect users through a synchronized network that will “blast” signals to and from an exact point located by GPS. …

CitEscape offers residential access with download speeds of 1.5 to 10 Mbps, according to Laura Kangas. She and her husband Albert own and operate Palmer Wireless, the company that put Wi-Fi capabilities on buses in Becker, and they purchased CitEscape this fall.

She said one advantage her company’s wireless service has over mobile broadband through cellular networks or satellites is unlimited data. “Ten gigabytes doesn’t go too far anymore,” she said.

TDS Telecom offers Internet access, management and voice-related services to business customers in St. Cloud and residential users in the surrounding area.

Nextera Communications services businesses in Central Minnesota primarily with a combination of T-1 lines, according to President Greg Arvig, whose relation to the service provider that shares his name is through blood, not business.

Connections range from about 1 Mbps to a couple hundred, he said, with Nextera tailoring speeds to each application.

In 2015, a small portion of Stearns County benefitted from a Border to Border grant

Arvig (Mainstreet Communications LLC), Sauk Lake area. Awarded $536,702 to build broadband infrastructure to serve 217 unserved premises in the Sauk Lake area, which is located primarily in Todd County (with some project area in rural Stearns County) just north of Sauk Centre. This is an unserved area where no wired broadband infrastructure is available. The full project cost is $1.07 million; the remaining $536,703 (50 percent) will be supplied by a private investment made by Arvig.

Good news – they will benefit from two Border to Border grants

Albany Mutual Telephone Association, Big Watab Lake – $726,185. The project will serve 242 unserved households in the Big Watab Lake area in Stearns County. Albany Mutual will improve service for families that need high-speed broadband for school and work. The total eligible project cost is $1.45 million, with a $726,185 local match.

Palmer Wireless, Del Tone Road and St. Cloud Airport – $179,400. This project will serve 14 unserved businesses and 1 unserved community anchor institution on the east side of St. Cloud. Palmer Wireless will make improvements that will upgrade business connectivity in the Highway 10 corridor, increasing business development opportunities and customer access. The total eligible project cost is $460,000, with a $280,600 local match.[Stearns County]

Stearns County is also in line to receive $1,530,252 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 3883 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: 87.58
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 38.01

ranking-roseau-to-yellow-medicine

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 30.79 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!

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

In 2014, 90sibley percent of Sibley 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.

Sibley County has been working on broadband for many years with Renville County. 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!

In 2015, they got help State help with a Border to Border grant

R-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.

Sibley County is in line to receive $1,673,898 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 2245 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: 71.27
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 51.01

ranking-roseau-to-yellow-medicine

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 46.83 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!

Sherburne County Broadband Profile: Access has slipped to 75 percent access to 25/3 but efforts are improving speeds

In 2014, sherburne92 percent of Sherburne County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 75 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 28 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Sherburne County is going the wrong direction; they have gone from well served to underserved as the definition of broadband changes. (The good news is they realize the problem.) Sherburne County is a Blandin Broadband Community, which means they are focused on improving broadband adoption and expansion. They are a team that is especially interested in expansion and upgrades…

They have a feasibility study and started an effort called Sherband to drive the effort for better broadband. They created a video on their need for better broadband. They have hosted conversations with politicians.

In 2015, they (via Palmer Wireless) received a Border to Border broadband grant

Palmer Wireless, Becker Industrial Park. Awarded $151,934 to deploy 3.4 miles of fiber passing 21 underserved businesses in the Becker Industrial Park (city of Becker) as well as to 12 vacant city-owned lots covering 70 acres. In addition, one of the vacant lots is the future site of the Northstar station. The total project costs are $303,870; the remaining $151,936 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Palmer Wireless via a line of credit.

And they received another grant in 2017

Palmer Wireless, Big Lake Industrial Park – $90,988. The project will serve 17 underserved businesses and 1 underserved community anchor institution in the Big Lake Industrial Park. Palmer Wireless will improve services that will have a positive impact on the economic health of Big Lake and businesses in the park. The total eligible project cost is $211,600, with a $120,612 local match. [Sherburne County]

Sherburne County is in line to receive $525,436 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 2159 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: 75.40
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 28.02

ranking-roseau-to-yellow-medicine

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 17.03 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!

Scott County Broadband Profile: 96 percent access to 25/3 supported by county-built 10Gig backbone

In 201scott4, more than 99 percent of Scott County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 96 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 88 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Scott County is well covered. In 2007, they started with a 94-mile optic ring. They told their story of saving several years ago at a Broadband Task Force Meeting

Scott County built a backbone with 146 strands of fiber (10Gbit). The county owns conduit but has contracts to share with public and private entities. This solves a lot of internal communications issues but they need to get out to the Internet. So they lease fiber with McCloud and connection to commercial providers through that and the 511 building (big telecom hub).

They ended up developing more than they wanted to build because providers were not as interested in helping them build a connection that might reach their potential clients. Also it ended up being cheaper to build.

Network is fully operations to all schools, libraries, government buildings in the County. They attracted the MNET. The ROI was immediate due to reduced charges to the County. The private providers are running it. For example, the schools were paying $58 per Mbit per student now they pay $6.83 per Mbit per student.

And outlined the benefits at an NTIA meeting years later

We (Scott County) saw disparity between cost and access. A T1 in SE Scott was about $5500/years; in NE Scott it was $900/year. This project means we now buy it for about $30/year. Scott County Government now pays $35,000/year less for better broadband now.

They have been part of the Metro County Fiber Interconnect – counties making concerted efforts to connect to each other.

Scott County is in line to receive $315,273 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 680 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: 96.10
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 88.38

ranking-roseau-to-yellow-medicineMississippi 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 11.78 out of 100.

More info:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Scott County (http://tinyurl.com/gt4afcy)                            

§  There is a matrix of Minnesota broadband adoption projects.

§  Districts: CD 2
Senate: 20, 55, 56
House: 20A, 55A, 55B, 56A

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!

St Louis County Broadband Profile: 82 percent have access to 25/3 but county of haves and have-nots

In 2014, st-louis80 percent of St Louis County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 82 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 39 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Northeast Minnesota in many ways the land of haves and have-nots. ARRA funding brought fiber to St Louis County’s neighbor Cook County. And ARRA brought middle mile coverage to the Northeast Service Cooperative. But service is not available everywhere.

Here is info on the haves

A Border to Border grant in 2015…

Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC) – Frontier Communications Corp., Border to Border Phase I. Awarded $1.96 million for their Phase I project that extends fiber from NESC’s middle mile network to 877 unserved end users and to serving nodes. The total project costs are $4.35 million; the remaining $2.39 million (55 percent local match) will be provided by IRRRB ($1.5 million), Frontier ($750,000) and NESC ($135,000).The proposed project is in scattered locations in St. Louis County, including areas in and around Crane Lake, Alborn, Meadowlands, Brookston, Forbes, Kelsey, Soudan, Kabetogama, Ely and Tower.

Another State grant in 2015

Mediacom, Pintar Road. Awarded $137,848 to provide broadband services to 122 unserved homes and businesses on the southwest edge of the city limits of Hibbing. The full cost of this project is $275,697; the remaining $137,849 in matching funds (50 percent) will be provided by a private investment made by Mediacom.

A Border to Border grant in 2017…

Residents in portions of Fayal Township can look forward to gaining robust broadband service with speeds of up to 200 megabits-per-second (Mbps) – twice as fast as Minnesota’s 2026 state speed goal….

The new network will be built by the summer of 2018, giving homes and businesses access to the same high-speed internet and advanced digital video services Mediacom delivers to residents in Hibbing, Virginia, and 12 other St. Louis County communities or townships.

The state broadband grant of $263,345 accounts for 39-percent of the project costs, and Mediacom will provide the remaining investment of $412,000. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who receive state grants are required to deliver service with speeds that will reach Minnesota’s 2026 state speed goal of 100 Mbps download by 20 Mbps upload.

The have-nots…

Cloquet Valley Internet Initiative has been working for better broadband in their area for a few years. They had a feasibility study done in 2013. They have and some success getting fixed wireless in the area. But they remain in the have-nots category. They are unsure what CAF 2 funding could mean to them. And local policymakers are not entirely sold on the need for government leadership in broadband expansion.

St Louis County is in line to receive $7,079,246 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 16,229 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: 82.72
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 38.78

ranking-roseau-to-yellow-medicine

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 38.98 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!

Roseau County Broadband Profile: 62 percent covered today with grant support

In 2014, roseau46 percent of Roseau 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 0 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20. I have to be suspect of zero access to 100/20 since is sounds like a part of an ARRA project in their area was for FTTH but perhaps none of those FTTH locations were in Roseau County. Although the they have also been in line for some FTTH through State supported projects.

There have been incremental upgrades in Roseau County. They were part of a ARRA grant

Wikstrom Telephone Company, Incorporated
$7,398,600
This $7.4 million grant to Wikstrom Telephone Company, Inc. will deploy 414 miles of new cables and electronics for GPON fiber to the home in 6 communities of Kittson, Marshall and Roseau County for Broadband Services over 100 megabits. Electronic enhancements will be made to existing DSL customers to increase Broadband speeds up to 48mbs, along with 74 miles of additional fiber to the node, and a 150mb microwave upgrade for service to the NW Angle. Wikstrom Telephone’s project stands to benefit approximately 12,000 people, 1,500 businesses, and 83 other community institutions. In addition to the jobs this project will create upfront, it will help drive economic development and create jobs for decades to come.

In 2015, they received a Border to Border broadband grant via Sjoberg cable…

Sjoberg Cable, Broadband Grant Proposal. Awarded $261,575 to provide broadband services to 107 unserved and 49 underserved locations using fiber-to- the-premise technology, predominantly in extremely rural and agricultural areas. The project would build-out in five areas in Roseau County near Roseau, Warroad and Salol. The total project costs are $523,150; the remaining $261,575 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Sjoberg’s Inc.

And were part of a State project through Wikstrom in 2015 as well…

Wikstrom Telephone, Kittson, Marshall, Roseau Broadband Extension. Awarded $425,000 to bring fiber-to-the-home service to 73 unserved and 43 underserved locations in Kittson (15 premises), Marshall (50 premises) and Roseau (51 premises) counties. The total project costs are $943,827; the remaining $518,827 (55 percent local match) will be provided by Wikstrom.

Unfortunately, either that work was not yet completed in July 2016 (when last measured) or the upgrade wasn’t enough to set them up for the 2026 speed goals.

Roseau County is in line to receive $847,823 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 1648 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: 62.12
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 0

ranking-roseau-to-yellow-medicine

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 49.73 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!

Rock County Broadband Profile: 65+ percent coverage for 25/3 and 100/20 access

In 2014, rock66 percent of Rock County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 68 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 66 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Rock County is a haves and have-nots community. Folks who have broadband have good broadband and the rest have nothing. They need to find a way to extend the good service they have, which is often easier said than done.

They did get a Border to Border state grant in 2015…

Rock County Broadband Alliance (RCBA), FTTP project. Awarded $5 million to deploy fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) service for approximately 1,085 underserved and 265 unserved locations in Rock County. The total project costs are $12.85 million; the remaining $7.85 million (61 percent local match) will be provided by Alliance Communications Cooperative as an equity infusion to RCBA, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alliance. Locations include 1,261 households and farms, approximately 68 businesses and 21 anchor institutions in the Jasper, Beaver Creek and Hardwick town and rural areas surrounding Luverne.

Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will bring FTTP service to all remaining unserved and underserved locations in Rock County, bringing to 93 percent coverage all businesses and households in the county. Education, energy efficiency, public safety and health care will improve, stimulating new jobs and economic growth. In particular in Rock County, access to health care is becoming more reliant on broadband infrastructure for both patients and health care professionals. For example, in remote rural locations, physicians who are on-call from their homes would be able to log into a patient’s chart and respond to a nurse’s request or see follow-up testing. Home monitoring capabilities help patients of all ages remain in their homes with high quality care, reducing health care costs and ensuring stronger community quality of life. Full county broadband coverage will provide significantly more reliable and faster communications for first responders and public safety officials.

They ran into some troubles with prevailing wage issues.

Rock County is in line to receive $3,967in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 9 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: 68.17
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 66.32

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 40.63 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!

Rice County Broadband Profile: Well served today (98 percent) but only half (49 percent) meet 2026 goals

riceIn 2014, 98 percent of Rice County had access to broadband. (Broadband was defined with lower speeds back then.) Today 98 percent of the county has access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up) and 49 percent has access to the 2026 speed goals of 100/20.

Looking at articles and editorials in the local paper, some folks in Rice County seem aware of the need to look to higher speeds. Representative Brian Daniels, however, seems to think that CAF 2 funding will build sufficient broadband. The county is well served by today’s standards but less than half have speeds that meet the 2026 goal.

Rice County is in line to receive $1,293,094 in CAF 2 funding to upgrade 3073 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: 97.93
  • Percentage served with 100/20 or better: 48.85

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 26.51 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!

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!