Houston County Broadband Profile: current ranking 37

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.

Houston County has dipped from 30 to 37.  A project in Houston County did seek state funding last year, but they didn’t get it. But it does indicate that people are interested in better broadband.

The Houston County News ran an letter supporting Walz for Governor, specifically mentioning his support of rural broadband.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 72.23 71.29
100/20 65.08 66.63

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: 37

Hennepin County Broadband Profile: current ranking 3

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.

Hennepin County’s ranking has improved from 4 to 3. They are at almost 99 percent coverage for 100/20 access. Hennepin County has the distinct advantage of high population density, which makes it an easier business case to serve than some of the more rural counties.

Also Hennepin County was home to the 2018 Superbowl and subsequently received a tech facelift for the US Bank Stadium and increased 5G access for much of the Twin Cities.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 99.16 99.18
100/20 98.57 98.97

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: 3

  • Find more articles on broadband in Hennepin County. (http://tinyurl.com/z9n7ea6)
  • Districts: CD 4, 5 & 6
    Senate: 29, 30, 33, 34, 36, 40, 41, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63
    House:  29A, 30B, 33A, 33B, 34A, 34B, 36A, 36B, 40A, 40B, 41B, 44A, 44B, 45A, 45B, 46A, 46B, 48A, 48B, 49A, 49B, 50A, 50B, 59A, 59B, 60A, 60B, 61A, 61B, 62A, 62B, 63A, 63B

Grant County Broadband Profile: current ranking 65

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.

Grant County has slipped from 55 to 65. Part of the issue is that while access to slower broadband (25/3) has increased, access to 100/20 has not increased since last year. Improvements that are being made are not keeping pace with future needs and goals.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 75.73 87.85
100/20 39.93 39.93

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: 65

Goodhue County Broadband Profile: Current ranking 47

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.

Goodhue ranking has slipped from 34 to 47. The county is well served near Red Wing. In fact, they were part of a case study that looks at the community return on public investment that found that…

Using formulas devised to measure impact of broadband access, Goodhue has the potential to realize:

  • A combined household economic benefit of broadband of $32,774,600
  • A combined increase in residential real estate value of $104,825,572 annually

Also a broadband grant was awarded to the area at the end of 2017…

Two communities in Goodhue County will benefit from this funding: Wanamingo and Goodhue/White Rock. Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development estimates that these two projects will improve access for 619 unserved households, 164 unserved businesses and four unserved community institutions.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 87.46 77.10
100/20 60.33 55.99

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: 47

  • Red Wing has worked with the Blandin Foundation
  • Find more articles on broadband in Goodhue County. (http://tinyurl.com/z3jwte4)
  • Districts: CD 2
    Sentate: 21, 58
    House: 21A, 21B, 58B

Freeborn County Broadband Profile: Current ranking 71

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.

The numbers for Freeborn have been a little strange; some of the number for last year were higher but they may have included fixed wireless connections so I’m using the numbers I got from the Office of Broadband Development. Their current ranking is 71.

There are a couple of potential for issues Freeborn. First, if we use the numbers below, there connectivity remains stagnant. Second, there’s a discrepancy between the 25/3 and 100/20 coverage, which mean there may be people who are content enough with their access today but maybe not be in the future as new applications assume better broadband.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 82.99 84.31
100/20 34.54 34.18

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: 71

Fillmore County Broadband Profile: current ranking 58

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.

Fillmore County has gone from ranking 52 to 58. Unfortunately they had also slipped in raking the last time I reported on the counties (Feb 2017). But in 2016, they started having county discussions on broadband. In the summer of 2017, created a Broadband Development Fund to match a border to border state grant application.

They did receive funding (late 2017) and they have an elected official (Senator Miller) who is talking up the local broadband projects…

Two communications and internet service providers in Fillmore County are set to receive funding for broadband expansion thanks to a new round of grants announced as part of the state’s Border to Border Broadband program.. …

AcenTek, in Rushford Village, will receive $2,011,628 for a major project to expand broadband access to communities that are current unserved. Mediacom, in the city of Fountain, will receive $202,125 to extend its existing service.

Once deployed, those grant projects should have an impact on local coverage.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 59.00 45.02
100/20 44.11 44.19

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: 58

Faribault County Broadband Profile: current ranking 60

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.

Faribault ranking has dipped from 44 to 60. They are one of the few counties in Minnesota where the broadband was deemed non-competitive for business by the FCC.But they are served by providers that are interested in improvements. Last year after posting the county profile I heard from the folks are BEVCOMM…

Faribault County is mostly served by BEVCOMM and Mediacom. BEVCOMM is a rural ILEC that is not covered by CAF 2 funding, but has recently opted to accept ACAM model support, which will replace rural High Cost USF support.

BEVCOMM is a motivated local provider, making a concerted effort to serve the area’s broadband needs. It has received two Border to Border broadband grants in the last two years in Faribault County, and another 4 grants in other rural areas it serves in Freeborn, Martin and LeSueur counties. The local match for these grants was entirely funded by BEVCOMM, without any local city, township or county funds.

Last summer, Faribault County hosted a national broadband listening session. They have also heard from local providers about the need for state funding to make broadband economically viable…

However, Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program has helped companies like Bevcomm serve these kinds of customers. In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced $26 million in grants were awarded to 39 broadband projects statewide.

“That is the difference between making these projects economically viable,” Beattie said.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 81.77 78.17
100/20 49.13 42.28

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: 60

  • Find more articles on broadband in Faribault County. (http://tinyurl.com/jzwv3gx)
  • Districts: CD 1
    Senate: 23, 27
    House: 23A, 27A

Douglas County Broadband Profile: current ranking 76

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.

Douglas County has gone from ranking 80 to 76. They are behind but they are going in the right direction. And the 100/20 access is improving at a faster rate than access to 25/3 so they are planning for the future.

Late in 2017, to grants in the area received funding

The first one is for a “fiber-to-the-home” project in the Country Estates development north of Lake Louise in northwest Alexandria and totals $101,624. The project will serve 32 unserved households and 10 unserved businesses.

The cost of the project that’s eligible for state funds is $225,830, with a $124,206 local match.

The second project, which received a $54,155 grant, will will take place in the Pospisil Drive development near Alexandria. It will serve 18 unserved households and six unserved businesses. The project will continue a build-out of broadband services that started last year.

The total eligible cost is $120,345, with a $66,190 local match.

In a funding partnership with the state, Gardonville will improve broadband service levels in both areas to 1 billion bits per second, or Gbps, for downloading and uploading, exceeding the state’s 2026 speed goal.

Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, issued a statement about the grants. He noted that areas in his district will benefit, including Albany ($616,743 in grants), Minnewaska Area ($4,996,791) and the Pospisil Drive development ($54,155).

“It is good to see local groups were successful in earning some of the grant money the Legislature provided to expand internet access in Greater Minnesota,” Anderson said in an e-mail. “I look forward to seeing these projects bring up to speed households and businesses that have been unable to enjoy reliable online service.”

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 75.10 82.96
100/20 7.68 25.56

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: 76

  • Find more articles on broadband in Douglas County. (http://tinyurl.com/jqpohsc)
  • Districts: CD 7
    Senate: 8, 12
    House: 8B, 12A, 12B

Dodge County Broadband Profile: current ranking 26

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.

Dodge County has slipped from ranking 10 to 26. In fact, alarmingly percentage of population served has decreased in access to 100/20 and 25/3. This may be because last year we included fixed wireless connections and this year we are looking at wired-only. Or it may reflect a correction (or blip) in the mapping.

Dodge County was hopeful that the CAF reverse auction might offer some possibilities.  They were also part of a state grant funded project. And they were slated to see an upgrade from Mediacom to Gig access in Dodge Center, Hayfield, Mantorville, West Concord’ those upgrades should be reflected in the most recent mapping.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 99.37 76.40
100/20 94.90 74.59

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: 26

Dakota County Broadband Profile: current ranking 40

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.

Dakota County has slipped in the ranking from 32 to 40. Their percentage of population served has not changed much since last year. But they have been working on a number of things that should improve access.

Last December they met to discussion management of public rights of way. They also started looking at a Broadband Joint Powers Agreement; in fact they have shared their notes and agreement as a model. And now the Dakota Broadband Board is looking for a new Executive Director.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 98.47 97.54
100/20 64.18 64.89

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: 40

Crow Wing County Broadband Profile: current ranking 61

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.

Crow Wing has moved their ranking up from 63 to 61.

Good news for Crow Wing County, Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative $15 million loan from the USDA last summer. So, service should just keep improving…

Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative received $15,000,000 loan.
This Rural Development investment will add 575 consumers, build 42 miles of line, improve 38 miles and make other system improvements. The loan amount includes $2,961,860 for smart grid projects.  Mille Lacs Energy is headquartered in Aitkin. It serves about 15,150 consumers in Aitkin, Crow Wing and Mille Lacs counties.  The economy of the territory is principally based on tourism, recreational activities and light industry.

Crow Wing County was one of the communities we studied last fall for the Measuring Community ROI report. We looked at the community investments and results…

The following public investments have been made:

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

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

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

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 87.78 92.29
100/20 33.13 41.66

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: 61

Cottonwood County Broadband Profile: current ranking 38

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.

Cottonwood County went from ranking 73rd to 38! That’s awesome. You can see in the chart below, they are only at 66 percent, but they went from 20 percent and it looks like any improvements in the area are major improvements. They are also at 68 percent coverage for access to 25/3 and that has to hurt for the folks without service, but they are building for the future. And they have been applying for state grants.

It looks like the schools are getting better service

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 like they are getting better cell coverage, AT&T made 26 individual network updates to cell towers on its 4G LTE network in 25 southwest Minnesota communities, including Cottonwood County.

The new Wide Area Network, which will offer gigabit upload and download speeds and above, will be up and running by July 1.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 60.52 67.89
100/20 19.24 66.34

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: 38

Cook County Broadband Profile: current ranking 10

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.

Cook County has made it to the top 10 rank  for broadband service – bumping up from 12 last year. Not bad for a county that made the worst served list in 2010. The unfortunate thing is that their coverage hasn’t changed, which means someone else must have slipped. It also might indicate that they need to address getting the last 5 percent of their area covered.

Cook County was featured in CoBank’s report in the last year ( Making the Move to Broadband: Rural Electric Co-ops Detail Their Experience). They take an in depth look from the provider perspective.

Cook County was an early Blandin Broadband Community (actually MIRC) and they continue to do community programming on broadband use. The kids in Cook County are also just starting a new digital newspaper at and at least one young participant has become a vocal advocate for better broadband for the entire state.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 94.50 94.50
100/20 94.46 94.50

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: 10

Clearwater County Broadband Profile: current ranking 13

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.

Clearwater ranking has improved from 23 to 13 with almost 90 percent coverage. They are one of the Cinderella counties that was named worst served in 2010 and now is near the top of the list. They are served by Garden Valley Telephone Cooperative.

Good news for Clearwater County, Garden Valley received a $20 million loan from the USDA last summer. So, service should just keep improving…

Recipient: Garden Valley Telephone Company
Loan amount: $20,360,000
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.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 99.58 99.58
100/20 73.41 89.30

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: 13

Clay County Broadband Profile: current ranking 19

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.

Clay County has improved their broadband ranking; going from 22 to 19 with 83 percent coverage. Clay County was listed as one of the 9 worst served counties in 2010; since then they have been continually improving.

They may see more improvements with $1.5 million USDA loan going into the area for smartgrid development.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 83.15 95.45
100/20 74.13 82.52

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: 19