Sherburne County Broadband Profile: current ranking 36

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.

Sherburne County broadband ranking has increased from 67 to 36! Sherburne county received upgrades via state broadband projects in 2015 and 2017 and they received an award in the last round of grants (via Palmer Wireless)…

The $110,661 grant, in conjunction with a local match from Sherburne County, will allow high-speed internet to serve 32 more homes and businesses and the Haven Town Hall.

This project supports customers that border Sherburne County Road 3 between county roads 7 and 20. That is just south of St. Cloud Regional Airport and east of Highway 10. The project will connect to an existing Palmer Wireless network that is being built as a result of the 2016 Border to Border St. Cloud Airport project.

Most of the locations in this area are rural homes, farms and businesses with large open spaces…

The county partnered with Palmer Wireless in the form of a $135,253 interest-free loan to help fund the project. The county has been installing the necessary conduit needed for the fiber in conjunction with highway improvement projects.

That should help with continued upgrades.

Sherburne has been looking at broadband for a few years. They were a Blandin Broadband Community

In 2014, 92 percent of Sherburne County had access to broadband as it was then defined (lower speeds back then). In 2016, when the definition of broadband was updated to take into account technological advances, only 75 percent of the county had access to broadband speeds of 25/3 (Mbps down/up), and 28 percent had access to Minnesota’s 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. It’s therefore not surprising that as a Blandin Broadband Community, Sherburne County focused on improving broadband access and infrastructure. The strategy they adopted was to focus on educating the public, improving technology use in schools, and on smaller public access projects.

Earlier in 2018, they held a legislative listening session to tell their legislators how important broadband is…

Hometown News Source reports on a meeting earlier in January where policymakers met with folks in Sherburne County about legislative priorities. Legislative attendees include Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake; Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River; Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, Sen. Jerry Relph, R-St. Cloud and Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, who is speaker of the House. A seventh legislator, Sen. Andrew Mathews, R-Milaca, was represented by his legislative assistant….

The county is interested in increasing rural area broadband fiber access.

Assistant County Administrator Dan Weber said a 2014 survey found that more than 60 percent of respondents felt their broadband access was inadequate then or would be in the future.

Since then, the county has received grants to improve access. Additional funding was provided through a federal program. As a result, Sherburne’s rank with regards to access to broadband has gone from 49th to 31st out of 87 counties, with the percent served rising from 74 percent to 85 percent. More, however, needs to be done, he said.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 75.40 94.50
100/20 28.02 67.11

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 36

Scott County Broadband Profile: current ranking 14

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.

Scott County broadband ranking has bumped up from 15 to 14 since the last mapping. The county has a little work to get ubiquitous coverage but what coverage they have is 100/20 speeds so they are building for the future.

Mediacom has announced Gig upgrades for portions of Scott County (Scott County: Belle .Plaine, Credit River Twp., Elko – New Market, Prior Lake, Savage,  Spring Lake Twp.).

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 96.10 83.47
100/20 88.38 88.61

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 14

Steele County Broadband Profile: current ranking 46

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.

Steele County have moved from 8 to 46 but I think this is one of those counties where either there’s a huge difference between wired and fixed wireless connections or there has been some sort of correction going on. Either way I think we can at least look at what’s going on.

It does get to the need for consistent mapping and having people look at the mapping. Steele County has also been one of those counties that appears to be doing well, but frankly I hear very little about them, which can be a good or a bad sign. I tend to hear about the extremes.

Mediacom has announced plans to upgrade to Gig in Blooming Prairie. AT&T has announced investments in the area. Steel County representatives are on board with broadband, Representative Daniels notes that technology-friendly policy is important to MN economic development.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 99.86 87.79
100/20 95.64 56.16

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 46

St. Louis County Broadband Profile: current ranking 63

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.

St Louis broadband ranking has dropped from 56 to 63. Their coverage of 100/20 access actually improved a bit but not keeping pace with other counties.

St Louis County has received several state broadband grants. Including a $1.8 million grant via CenturyLink in the last round of funding

CenturyLink, Inc. has been awarded $1.8 million in state Border-to-Border broadband grants to improve broadband service as part of the $3.6 million  project in the Fredenberg Township near Duluth, Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced.

CenturyLink will invest more $1.8 million in company funds to bring fiber to the home (FTTH) and higher internet speeds to more than 800 households and businesses in CenturyLink service areas in Fredenberg Township.

And a grant through Paul Bunyan Communications

Paul Bunyan Communications has been awarded a Border to Border Broadband Grant from the state of Minnesota to expand its fiber optic services to portions of St Louis, Hubbard and Itasca Counties.
As a result, the cooperative will begin expansion construction next spring that will pass a minimum of 830 locations. The areas include the Hwy 34 corridor between Nevis and Park Rapids in Hubbard County, portions of the Side Lake Area that include locations in both Itasca County and St. Louis County, and an area Southeast of Bigfork and North of Scenic Highway. The project is estimated to cost $1.78 million, with Paul Bunyan Communications contributing $980,990, and the State of Minnesota
Border to Border grant contributing $802,620.

Hopefully that will help increase access.

Unfortunately St Louis has been experiencing problems with one of their providers, Frontier. That being said, several Minnesota communities have had trouble with Frontier, which is why the PUC held several public meetings with Frontier around the state last summer (2018).

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 82.72 63.47
100/20 38.78 41.20

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 63

Stearns County Broadband Profile: current ranking 64

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.

Stearns County broadband ranking has dropped from 58 to 64.

Stearns County will see some improvement in access through Albany Mutual Telephone and the state grant they received in the last round

Albany Mutual Telephone Association, Two Rivers Area – $616,743. This last mile project will extend the existing Albany Fiber-to-the-Home network to serve 121 unserved households and home-based businesses in an area northeast of Albany in Stearns County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Albany Mutual Telephone Association will improve broadband service levels to exceed the 2022 state goal of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. The all-optical network will provide more opportunity for the creation of new businesses, educational advances and access to healthcare services including wearable technology and home monitoring devices. The total eligible project cost is $1,233,486, with a $616,743 local match.

AT&T has announced investments made in the area. TDS is planning on expansions using federal funds but only for speeds ranging from 25/3 to 4/1. And Mediacom has announced Gig upgrade plans for some areas of Stearns, specifically Belgrade, Brooten, Paynesville and Paynesville Township.

Stearns County has asked local policymakers to make broadband a priority. Although they did hear from Rep Paul Anderson at a regional discussion on broadband hosted by the Blandin Foundation…

Rep Paul Anderson – Representing parts of Pope, Douglas & Stearns – this is not a budget year. Feb forecast came out with $320M surplus; we thought it would be higher. That number may be conservative. But the lower number makes us think. School safety and gun control are big issues – there was a meeting yesterday with standing room only. They are talking about $300 million a year to put an armed officer in each school; mental health counselors might be a use of money. I got a postcard from HughesNet. They talked about 25/3 with 20Gig data and Netflix quality broadband. Wireless has to play a part of any solution in our area. The State grants are great – but it increases costs when you need to pay livable wage. I don’t think we’ll get $50 million this year.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 87.58 88.96
100/20 38.01 40.17

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 64

Roseau County Broadband Profile: current ranking 35

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.

Roseau County has gone from broadband ranking of 85 to 35. Then went from having nothing in terms of 100/20 to 67 percent coverage. A most improved contender!

In the last round of state broadband funding, Wikstrom did get a grant to improve access in Roseau…

Wikstrom Telephone, Wiktel NW MN Broadband – $1,307,785. This project will serve rural sparsely populated areas in Kittson, Marshall, and Roseau counties in far northwestern Minnesota, passing 300 unserved homes and 31 unserved business locations. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Wikstrom will improve broadband services levels to 1 Gbps down and up, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal, on a fiber optic network, and in some locations will extend the service from routes built via the 2016 Border to Border State Grant program. The broadband improvements will foster opportunities in economic development, successful education services for children and adults alike, and allow for critical home health care monitoring in this remote area. The total eligible costs is $2,906,189, with a $1,598,404 local match.

Senator Johnson celebrated that award.

At a regional discussion on broadband hosted by the Blandin Foundation, Mark Klinkhammer of Garden Valley Telephone mentioned that he had been talking with Roseau Electric to expand to some areas. As a cooperative, they are motivated to get services to their people. That may bode well for Roseau County.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 62.16 67.30
100/20 0 67.30

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 35

Rock County Broadband Profile: current ranking 1

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.

Rock County broadband ranking went from 28 to 1.  They got a state grant in 2015 and that set them in the right direction…

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.

Now Rock County is working on making the best use of their FTTH. Last summer (2018) they became a Blandin Broadband Community (BBC) and will work on broadband adoption through that initiative. In the summer of 2017, they shared their community broadband expertise by inviting the Minnesota Broadband Task Force to visit the area and learn more about the program. Here is a run down of the project in Rock County…

  • 2013 – project started
  • Sep 2014 – organized Rock County Broadband Alliance LLC dba Alliance Communications
  • Oct 2014 Submitted grant application for Rock County excluding Kanaranzi due to prevailing wage rules. $12.8M
  • Feb 2015 – grant winners announced
  • March 2015 – Begin filing for CLEC authority and a MN 911 CLEC plan for Rock County
  • March-Aug 2015 – Conversations occur regarding project costs, including prevailing wage projections. Rock County Commissioners vote to grant RCBA $1M for the project (to include Kanaranzi)
  • July 23 2015 – Bid letting meeting with contractors
  • Au 4 – Bid opening. Bids ranged from $10.5M to $15.6M Final contract awarded to Michaels Corp
  • Aug 15 – Marketing campaign starts
  • Sept 23 – Final grant contract signed
  • Sep 23 – Fiber ordered and marketing plan begins
  • Nov 15 – Feb 2016 – Construction plan developed
  • March 2016 – preconstruction meeting
  • April 2016 – construction starts
  • Fall 2016 – home installation begins

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 68.17 99.93
100/20 66.32 99.93

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 1

Rice County Broadband Profile: current ranking 74

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.

Rice County broadband ranking has dropped from 45 to 74 in part because the percentage of access has dropped although that may be in part due to the fact that the 2018 numbers look at wired access only. (2017 number looked at fixed wireless too.)

Rice County is in a precarious position because their access to 25/3 speeds is good but access to 100/20 is not good. So residents may be happy enough with their service now but as the rest of the world starts using faster speeds, applications will start assuming or requiring faster speeds.

I sometime look at communities with good 25/3 access but poor 100/20 access like the C+ students. Their access seems fine enough so they don’t get the help they need to prepare for the future.

Rice County did apply for a state broadband grant (unsuccessfully) in the last round…

Rice County will try for a second year to connect more of its residents.

The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to back a grant application that would extend broadband service into unserved or underserved parts of northwest Rice County including areas around Webster and Veseli. The application will be made by three area internet service providers: Lonsdale Telephone Co., BEVCOMM and Jaguar Communications.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 97.93 93.20
100/20 48.85 32.63

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 74

Renville County Broadband Profile: current ranking 50

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.

Renville County has slipped from 42 to 50.

There has been some back and forth on the RS Fiber cooperative broadband provider project, a which provides broadband (fixed wireless and/or FTTH) to parts of Renville and Sibley County. Because there’s so much news I’ll present this county (and Sibley) a little differently. I’ll provide headlines to the various articles related to the county – starting with the earliest article since the last county profile (Feb 2017):

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 59.27 55.06
100/20 50.43 51.78
  • The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:
  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 50

Redwood County Broadband Profile: current ranking 72

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.

Redwood County broadband ranking has slipped from 60 to 72.

In 2017, Arvig got a state broadband grant to improve access in Redwood County

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.
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.

Redwood County was a Blandin Broadband Community (BBC)…

Redwood County struggles with broadband access issues, ranking 81 of 87 Minnesota counties when it comes to reaching the state broadband speed goal of 25 megabits download / 3 megabits upload. As a Blandin Broadband Community, Redwood County undertook a feasibility study and market survey and have used the study to inform conversations with local internet providers about what might be done to improve broadband access across the county. In the meantime, the committee is working on providing new technology training, equipment and access, as well as on projects to connect the Lower Sioux Clinic and Community Center, and to launch a new telehealth initiative at Redwood Area Hospital.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 41.51 72.07
100/20 34.37 33.56

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 72

Red Lake County Broadband Profile: current ranking 18

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.

Red Lake County broadband ranking increased from 46 to 18. The county has almost entirely covered for 25/3 access but they have a little work to get 100/20.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 99.99 99.99
100/20 48.01 83.17

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 18

Ramsey County Broadband Profile: current ranking 2

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.

Ramsey County broadband ranking has gone from 1 to 2 but they still have almost ubiquitous access to 100/20 service. But they are looking for improvements. There was an application for state broadband funding from Ramsey County, although it was not awarded.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 99.75 99.84
100/20 99.39 99.82

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 2

  • 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

Pope County Broadband Profile: current ranking 78

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.

Pope County broadband ranking had dropped from 70 to 78.

But they received a Minnesota broadband grant in the last round

Hanson Communications, Minnewaska Area FTTP – $4,996,791. This Fiber-to-the-Premise project will serve unserved and underserved locations in Pope County, including: 274 unserved households and 535 unserved businesses; and 468 underserved households and 181 underserved businesses and 11 underserved community institution. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Hanson Communications will improve broadband service levels to 1Gbps down and 1Gbps up for rural subscribers in the Starbuck Exchange and the Lake Minnewaska Area in west central Minnesota, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal. Hanson worked together with Pope County officials to identify those areas in the rural portions of the county receiving less than sufficient broadband services. The primary customers will be residential customers and traditional family-owned farms, all to be served by reliable, affordable, high quality broadband to improve community and economic development opportunities. The total eligible cost is $11,460,530, with a $6,463,739 local match.

Pope County had a feasibility study done in 2017, which certainly helped with the grant application…

CCG Consulting and Finley Engineering found in the study that bringing all-fiber to the 4,626 households in the underserved area of the county is expensive.  That’s why they designed a scenerio that includes a fiber ring around the county and utilizes wireless technology to serve portions of the county within that ring.  On that scenario, there would be about 1,358 households on fiber and 3,226 served through the wireless technology.  “This would be far and away better than what is out there now, but the goal is to bring fiber to each household,” Dawson explained.  He also said that the wireless technology has improved drastically over the past few years and is a viable system.

So, the plan would be to construct a 67.6-mile long fiber ring to cover the service area (the entire county).  That would mean there would be 765 miles of roads that would need fiber and the engineers stated that it would be more cost effective to bury that whole fiber network, so it would not be placed on rural poles.

Adding the wireless scenario would mean utilizing new and exiting towers throughout the county that would be served by fiber.  The wireless system being considered would delver speeds of at least 25 mbps.  “That’s the minimum and the goal would be to upgrade the white space spectrum to increase bandwidth,” he explained. …

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

Pope County was part of a region-wide discussion on broadband hosted by the Blandin Foundation where Representative Paul Anderson spoke up…

Rep Paul Anderson – Representing parts of Pope, Douglas & Stearns – this is not a budget year. Feb forecast came out with $320M surplus; we thought it would be higher. That number may be conservative. But the lower number makes us think. School safety and gun control are big issues – there was a meeting yesterday with standing room only. They are talking about $300 million a year to put an armed officer in each school; mental health counselors might be a use of money. I got a postcard from HughesNet. They talked about 25/3 with 20Gig data and Netflix quality broadband. Wireless has to play a part of any solution in our area. The State grants are great – but it increases costs when you need to pay livable wage. I don’t think we’ll get $50 million this year.

AT&T announced their investment in Pope County. Mediacom announced plans to upgrade parts of Pope (Starbuck) to Gig access. Finally, TDS plans to expand services but at speeds that will be too slow to have an impact on chart below…

The A-CAM program, part of the FCC’s Connect America Fund program, will provide $5.1 million for this particular project and TDS says hundreds of additional nearby locations not covered by this funding will also benefit. Depending on location, most of these residents will see speeds of 25/3 Mbps, with others getting 10/1 Mbps or 4/1 Mbps. TDS owns four telephone companies in Minnesota and employs about 225 people in the state. …

TDS Telecom (TDS) began design work earlier in 2017 in the Mid-State Telephone service area that includes part of Kandiyohi County as well as portions of Pope, Swift, Stearns and Chippewa counties.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 62.73 61.27
100/20 24.33 23.67

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 78

Polk County Broadband Profile: current ranking 16

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.

Polk County broadband ranking has bumped up from 19 to 16. Polk got an early jump with broadband access in the form of an ARRA grant to Halstad Telephone. Halstad also received an early round Minnesota broadband grant.

Good news for the area, Red River Valley Cooperative Power Association received a $8,000,000 loan from the USDA to improve infrastructure for a smart grid system…

This Rural Development investment will add 414 consumers, build 47 miles of line, improve 44 miles and make other system improvements.  The loan amount includes $1,545,000 for smart grid projects.  Red River Valley is headquartered in Halstad.  It serves 4,606 customers over 1,802 miles of line in Clay, Norman and Polk counties in northwestern Minnesota. The economy of the service area is primarily agricultural.

While Garden Valley Telephone Company received a loan of $20,360,000 from the USDA through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Community Connect Grant Program…

Project description: This Rural Development investment will be used to make system improvements in Polk, Clearwater, Pennington, Marshall and Red Lake counties, and in the vacation resort areas of Maple Lake and Union Lake. The borrower proposes to construct 295.1 miles of fiber-optic facilities and construct fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) facilities. These improvements will enable Garden Valley to enhance services and provide voice, video and higher broadband speeds for subscribers.

Halstad received a grant in the last round of Minnesota grants…

Halstad Telephone Co., Kertsonville Area – $296,665. The project will serve 51 unserved households in Kertsonville and Onstad townships in Polk County. Halstad Telephone Co. will improve service levels that benefit farmers, home businesses and residents. The total eligible project cost is $593,330, with a $296,665 local match.

AT&T has announced their investment in the area.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 90.78 93.00
100/20 80.89 85.39

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 16

Pipestone County Broadband Profile: current ranking 22

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.

Pipestone County broadband ranking has improved from 51 to 22. All of the improvement has happened in the 100/20 speeds.

Woodstock is building infrastructure in Pipestone county

Fiber optic cable is going in the ground between Edgerton and a communications tower northeast of Trosky as part of Woodstock Communications’ effort to expand internet service in the county.
The tower near Trosky is one of two existing towers the company plans to lease space on and connect fiber to as part of its effort to bring high-speed internet service to unserved parts of Pipestone County with a hybrid fiber-wireless system. The other tower is north of Pipestone.
Woodstock Communications also plans to build two new communications towers — one in Altona Township and one in Eden Township — that it will use to transmit wireless internet service. The towers are expected to provide broadband service within a six-mile radius.

Woodstock received a $363,000 state grant to improve access in the area…

Last year, Murray County and Pipestone County partnered with four other southwest Minnesota counties and the Blandin Foundation to conduct feasibility studies — also done by Finley and CCG — in hopes of getting a similar outcome.

Pipestone County’s study was completed in February 2017, and later that year, Ruthton-based Woodstock Telephone received a $363,851 grant from the Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband to provide fixed wireless broadband to rural Pipestone County.

Here’s a look at what the feasibility study says…

Our analysis shows that it is not feasible to build broadband in the study area without some support from grants. That is not a surprising finding since the cost of building broadband to rural areas is high. This is particularly pronounced in Pipestone County since the areas we studied are entirely rural and don’t include small towns that might reduce the cost of building broadband. The analysis also shows that it will require more than the 50% grant offered currently by DEED if somebody wants to build fiber to the rural areas. We’ve seen this same result in other rural counties since the cost of building fiber to farms is so high.

It looks more feasible to provide wireless broadband to the study area. We know that is not the result the county was hoping for, but the Finley analysis provides for a fiber-fed wireless network that can provide speeds of at least 25 Mbps download to rural homes in the county. That would solve the immediate crisis for homes with no broadband. However, once built, the county will have to continue to push in the future to eventually get the network converted over to fiber.

The county is also benefiting from investment from AT&T and a Gig upgrade through Mediacom to parts of the count (Pipestone and Trosky).

The county has reason to want better broadband. The school is getting better connected

Through a partnership between SDN Communications and the Southwest West Central (SWWC) Service Cooperative, a fiber-based internet service will come to more than 30 school districts in southwest Minnesota, including every public school district in Nobles, Murray, Rock, Cottonwood and Pipestone counties.

And they know they need better for telehealth

“In a rural setting as a physician you feel like you’re on an island and don’t have the resources available and with our telecommunications system, it’s never like that,” he said.
He said they’re in good shape with broadband at PCMC, but other facilities across the Avera system don’t have the same access which creates barriers. Klobuchar said they included $600 million in the federal budget to address rural broadband issues, money that “trickles through from the states,” she said, and must also reach the agricultural industry.
“Ag, more and more, precision agriculture, is using broadband,” she said.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 79.36 79.73
100/20 44.54 79.73

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

  • 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022
  • 100 Mbps down and 20 up by 2026

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 22