What can we learn from 2020 MN Broadband County Rankings

Each year we take a look at Minnesota county rankings and create profiles to help understand which communities are having success and what aspects of that success might help set policy or be replicable in other communities. The Office of Broadband Development track percentage of each county with access to broadband as defined by three speeds 25 Mbps down and 3 up, 100 Mbps down and 20 up and symmetrical Gig. This report looks at access to 100/20, which is the state speed goal for 2026.

The latest round, we have the advantage of getting updated rankings just a few months after publishing the profiles so we are better able to ascribe cause and effect.

Lessons from Top Ranking Counties

County percent Ranking last year ranking
Rock 99.93 1 1
Lac qui Parle (LqP) 99.83 2 3
Ramsey 99.74 3 2
Clearwater 99.59 4 4
Beltrami 99.24 5 6
Lincoln 99.03 6 7
Hennepin 98.51 7 8
Pennington 98.19 8 10
Big Stone 98.05 9 9
Swift 97.45 10 5

There are lessons we learn from the top-ranking counties. But the lessons from the top have more to do with being dealt a good poker hand than how to play with a bad hand. (And in some ways, as we’ll see, the bottom ranking counties confirm that being dealt a good hand is an undeniable benefit.)

A provider who is engaged in providing top ranking services is a gift to a community. Of the top ten counties, at least six are served by cooperatives, two are metro-based counties and two are served by local providers. The metro counties have the advantage of being profitable to serve so it’s an easy call to invest in upgrades. Cooperatives and local providers tend to be invested in the local community as well as their profit margin; they know that if broadband helps local businesses those local businesses can remain loyal customers and perhaps upgrade their service tier. Cooperatives have the advantage of stated priority to serve their members and slower expectations for return on investment. Often we’ll hear a cooperative plan for a 10+ year return on investment cycle.

That doesn’t mean that these communities haven’t worked hard to get better broadband. Several counties (Rock, LqP, Big Stone and Swift) have worked with providers to get Minnesota Border to Border grants. That help has included making a financial investment as well as help with writing grants and making the case that broadband is a necessary investment to residents and decision makers. Lincoln County worked on a feasibility study and used it to work with their local cooperative. Being a engaged partner can make a county  more attractive but only if the provider is willing to partner.

Lessons from Top Ranking Counties

County percent Ranking last year ranking
Murray 54.37 78 77
Aitkin 52.77 79 78
Carlton 52.04 80 79
Traverse 50.97 81 80
Isanti 50.43 82 81
Todd 48.38 83 82
Yellow Medicine 48.07 84 83
Redwood 45.21 85 85
Pine 39.72 86 86
Kanabec 25.81 87 87

There are also lessons to be learned by looking at the bottom ranked counties. There are assumptions you might make – do they have lower population density, are these poorer counties or are they not interested in broadband. Two of the counties are listed in counties with lowest population density; but so is one of the best served counties. Many of these counties are listed as having lowest median income but again so are some of the best-served counties. Another assumption is that these counties have not been interested or engaged in getting better broadband in their communities but actually all but one of them have worked with the Blandin Foundation on expanding broadband access and/or use in their counties. Many have worked for years on getting better broadband.

Four of the counties at the bottom of the list are primarily served by a national provider who has received federal funding to build broadband but only to speeds of 10 Mbps down and 1 up; although they can build to faster speeds. The difficulty is that this prevents other providers from wanting to go into the area. It especially make it difficult to pursue a Minnesota Border to Border Broadband grants; they are set up so that incumbent providers can challenge an application in their area if they serve the area or plan to serve it.

(Potential sidebar?)
Federal funding has the potential to open some doors although it also has the potential to make it worse. Unprecedented amounts of funding will be going into deploy better broadband in the next few years. How they dole out funding and speed requirements will impact the success.

Lessons from the Most Improved Counties

Twenty-nine counties improved their ranking in the last year. Most bumped up a spot or two but a few made significant changes.

County percent Ranking last year ranking delta
McLeod 77.65 49 74 25
Brown 83.27 34 50 16
Houston 83.16 36 51 15
Faribault 65.51 72 84 8
Meeker 70.73 64 72 8

Four of the five most improved counties were awarded grants in 2021; that includes McLeod County, Brown, Faribault and Meeker. Houston got a fairly sizable grant ($2.8 million) in 2019. It seems likely that improvement can be attributed to the grants. It seems simplistic to say that but it’s also nice to see an impact in State funding.

McLeod and Houston Counties have not been focused on improving broadband. They had providers that were invested in getting grants in their area. In fact, both counties were beneficiaries of grants were multi-county in scope. The hope is that this ignites an interest in more engagement but there is no guarantee.

The other three counties have seen local engagement in broadband:

Lessons from Last Year’s Most Improved

A frustrating theme has emerged looking at the counties and broadband – actions and engagement from the county does not ensure broadband success. Nothing beats an invested provider. But in the last couple of years, there have been counties that have taken steps that are worth consideration and none more so than Lincoln County, the most improved county at last ranking. They went from 40 percent access to 100/20 to 99 percent – boosting them from 83 to 7 in a year! They have been active in trying to get better broadband for years and there was a renewed interest going back to 2016.

With help from the Blandin Foundation, Lincoln released a feasibility study in 2018, which indicated Fiber to the Premise would cost $8.5 million in eastern Lincoln County. The community was able to go to the provider (ITC) with the budget and maps.

The plan included an overbuild of some Frontier areas but did not include Tyler and Ivanhoe. ITC said they were able to invest $2.5 million and looked at CAF reverse auction. That left the community with a $6 million bill to make up the difference. They applied for a Minnesota Border to Border grant; they found a way to include Tyler and Ivanhoe, which brought the project to $10 million. Unfortunately, they did not get the funding.

The county decided to move ahead on their own. They were able to bond for $5 million. The area is fortunate that they have seen expansion in wind industry, which has led to production tax, which could be used for a special project such as broadband.

A few actions worth highlighting feasibility study, partnerships and agile resilience. Having a feasibility study provides a roadmap and makes it easier to approach potential provider partners as well as funders and to help policy and decision makers understand their options.

County Broadband Profiles and County Rankings as tools for Preparing for broadband grants

Minnesota is looking at an unprecedented amount of money coming in (from State and Federal funds) to support deployment of better broadband. Today, policymakers and government agencies are processing how to spend that money but opportunity is around the corner. So what can your county do to prepare? Assess your current situation. We have the tools that can help:

There are a couple of questions to help guide your assessment:

  1. How does your county compare?
  2. What are your roadblocks?
  3. Do you have a potential provider partner?
  4. Do you have community support?

How do you compare?

Legislators look at two numbers to measure broadband goals – the total number of households that need access and the maps that show which counties are coverages and which aren’t. They are looking for best deal for the dollar – generally homes that are spread apart of in difficult to reach terrain are more expensive to serve. Right now policymakers are wrangling with which of these goals to prioritize but you can at least know where you stand.

Check out the latest ranking/coverage charts. The top 44 ranking counties have 80 percent or better coverage; the bottom 11 ranking counties have less than 55 percent coverage. Where do you rank? What is your percentage of coverage? Check out your county profile, which includes a map. Do you have a lot of houses that need broadband? Are they close together or far apart from each other? What solution will get your residents the broadband they need and help the State reach it’s goals.

It’s also worth looking at how your county ranking has changed since the county profiles and the latest ranking. Some counties have really gained ground (McLeod and Brown) and some are losing ground (Le Sueur and Kandiyohi). Know that’s part of your narrative.

What are your roadblocks?

Knowing your roadblocks will help you build your team and/or create a strategy that will get your funded and served. Start with your county profile. Many profiles, if not most, will outline what roadblocks you might be experiencing. (You may want to look at previous profiles too to see if there are issues you have overcome or that may remain (2018, 2019 or 2020). Here are some common roadblocks or scenarios that might indicate an issue:

  • You have a disinterested provider that covers much of your county. You may need to decide whether to work with that provider or find another.
  • You lack competition from multiple providers. This may overlap with a disinterested provider and the answer may again be finding providers who are interested in serving the area.
  • You invested years ago and are well served for 25 Mbps down and 3 up but not for 100/20. You may need to convince residents (or providers) that you need more for the future. This has become easier since the pandemic and more people stay at home for work and school.
  • You are in an area that may receive federal funding (such as RDOF) but so far funds have not been awarded. Indications point to the possibility of State Funding in 2022.

Do you have a potential provider partner? 

You may already know the providers in your area and county. If not, you can start with your county profile. See if there are providers that have received grants in the area; they are potential partners. See if there are other areas that serve the area. (If they profile doesn’t include providers, check the list of providers by county from the Office of Broadband Development. White you are there, you might check out list of providers in neighboring counties if you are looking for new partners. Also know that there are providers who are willing to go into new areas if you can persuade them that your area would be a good one to serve.

Do you have community support?

Once again, you can start with your county profile. Your profile will indicate if you’ve received any State broadband grants or worked with the Blandin Foundation and specific projects may be mentioned. You can also find your representatives; if you search their name on the Blandin on Broadband blog, you can see if they have been tracked talking about broadband. Community engagement isn’t important if you have a committed provider but if you don’t it can be an asset, especially when public funding may be required to deploy broadband. The community may need to commit financially or by communicating with policymakers.

MN Tribal broadband maps are out – compare 2019 to 2020 coverage

I recently finished the MN County Broadband profiles – 87 mini reports on what’s happening in each county. I’ve been keep an eye out for an opportunity to update the profiles for MN tribal communities as well. The maps from the Office of Broadband Development are out, which show the coverage (served/underserved/unserved) but the numbers aren’t. From a macro level it’s hard to compare progress or gauge success without the numbers. When the numbers come out I’ll do a deeper dive, in the meantime I thought it might be interesting to at least see the maps from 2019 and 2020 for each tribal area. Side by side we can make some assessments in each community.

Key:

  • Served: Green
  • Underserved: Purple
  • Unserved: Pink

Bois Forte Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Fond du Lac
(get 2020 map)


Grand Portage Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Leech Lake Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Lower Sioux Indian Community
(get 2020 map)


Mille Lacs Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Prairie Island Indian Community
(get 2020 map)


Red Lake Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
(get 2020 map)


Upper Sioux Community
(get 2020 map)


White Earth Reservation
(get 2020 map)

Yellow Medicine County Broadband Profile 2021: Red rating: Ranking out 83 of 87

Rank: 83
Code: Red
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Yellow Medicine County: still bottom 10 ranking

Yellow Medicine actually increased broadband by 11 percent, which boosts their ranking to 83; unfortunately that still leaves them in the bottom 10 ranking. But there may be some opportunities for improvement.

Yellow Medicine County is getting more FTTH fall 2021 from Arvig; it will serve 170 locations in the Wood Lake exchange and 162 in Echo exchange.

Also federal funding may be available. Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Yellow Medicine is $1,883,001; broadband is one possible use.

Yellow Medicine may benefit from intervention, such as the Blandin Accelerate program, a process to spur community acquisition and deployment of federal and state broadband funds, to find an alternative solution. They are a code red community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 48.81 37.71 38.86 37.72 19.28
25/3 (2022 goal) 64.65 59.83 68.31 46.91 20.42

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Yellow Medicine 87.2 76 5.6 54.9

Past grants:

  • 2016 – MIDCO CANBY TO MARSHALL MIDDLE MILE AND LAST MILE – GRANT AMOUNT: $623,000
  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile – Grant award: $808,080

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Yellow Medicine County (http://tinyurl.com/zhsj3ke)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 83 (up 2)
  • Has worked with Blandin
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant
  • Household density: 5.02

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Wright County Broadband Profile 2021: Yellow rating: Ranking out 31 of 87

Rank: 31
Code: Yellow
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Wright County: stalled at 80 percent coverage

Wright County is home to Monticello, one of the much-discussed municipal broadband networks. Monticello is well served but they county is mixed but working on it. A recent Wright County Broadband Survey revealed that 86 percent want better broadband. They have also been working to get local residents take a speed test to gauge need in the area.

A recent report from the Institute for Local Self Reliance looked at broadband in Monticello and Buffalo in Wright County. Monticello was an early municipal network that overcame many challenges but still provides services while Buffalo has been slowly expanding municipally owned fiber.

There may be opportunities for Wright to invest in better broadband. Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Benton is $7,930,170; broadband is one possible use.

Because Wright County is engaged, they may find a way to use the ARP funding to invest in broadband; that would help get closer to ubiquitous broadband. Wright County is a code yellow community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 86.15 82.51 81.02 80.61 29.26
25/3 (2022 goal) 92.71 89.69 91.07 87.89 81.17

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Wright 92.2 83.1 4.5 64.2

Past grant:

  • 2017 – Midco (Midcontinent Communications) – Annandale East – GRANT $537,050
  • Meeker Coop. Light & Power Assoc. (Vibrant Broadband) – Lake Louisa/Lake Marie Project – GRANT $297,940

Checklist:

Details:

  • Districts: CD 6
    Senate: 15, 18, 29, 30
    House: 15B, 18A, 29A, 29B, 30A, 30B
  • Find your reps

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Winona County Broadband Profile 2021: Yellow rating: Ranking out 28 of 87

Rank: 28
Code: Yellow
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Winona County: pretty good access and needs a push for ubiquitous

Winona County has been focused on broadband for years; they were part of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) starting in 2010, a Blandin-led and federal (ARRA) funded broadband adoption project.

They have benefited from past grant funded projects and will benefit from a project that received MN Border to Border funding in the last round and have opted to use CARES funding to invest in broadband.

Winona County has allotted $1 million in CARES funding to pay for rural broadband expansion projects. Dakota County has earmarked $800,000 for its broadband expansion projects.

Winona County will benefit from a MN State Grant awarded in 2021:

  • AcenTek – Rural Peterson Exchange FTTH – GRANT $1,492,096 This last mile project will serve 214 unserved households, 18 unserved businesses, 88 unserved farms, and two unserved community anchor institutions as well as 47 underserved households and five underserved businesses in areas of Fillmore and Winona counties.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Winona is $9,791,061; broadband is one possible use.

Winona County has the opportunity to invest in broadband with federal funding. That would help them reach ubiquitous broadband. They are a yellow code community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 87.59 87.47 86.43 86.31 81.17
25/3 (2022 goal) 91.65 88.09 86.58 86.48 92.13

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Winona 90.3 81 4.4 59.3

Past grants:

  • 2016 – WINONA COUNTY PICKWICK AREA – GRANT: $416,640
  • 2015 – Hiawatha Broadband Communications – Winona County Whitewater Area – Grant Award: $247,000
  • 2015 – Winona County Hiawatha Broadband Communications – Cedar Valley Area – Grant award: $314,450
  • 2019: AcenTek – Rural Houston Exchange FTTH – GRANT $2,895,318

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Winona County (http://tinyurl.com/hqsckxg)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 28 (down 4)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 31.36

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Wilkin County Broadband Profile 2021: Red rating: Ranking out 47 of 87

Rank: 47
Code:  Red
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Wilkin County: going the wrong way – need to focus

Broadband access in Wilkin County has actually decreased over the years. The access and ranking is decreasing. But at least the local policymakers seem to recognize the need for broadband. And the influx of federal money could present new opportunities.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Wilkin is $1,203,809; broadband is one possible use.

Wilkin County has the opportunity to invest in broadband with federal funding. That would help them reach ubiquitous broadband. They are a code red community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 77.06 77.06 80.84 82.08 80.84
25/3 (2022 goal) 83.01 83.1 88.01 86.53 80.84

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Wilkin 86 76.1 4.2 57.7

Past grant:

  • 2017 – Advantenon – Rural Grant, Stevens and Wilkin Counties – Grant $316,554

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Wilkin County (http://tinyurl.com/zh64v29)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 47
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 3.26

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Watonwan County Broadband Profile 2021: Red rating: Ranking out 64 of 87

Rank: 64
Code:  Red
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Watonwan County: hovering around 70 percent

Watonwan County has been hovering just under 70 percent covered since we began tracking. They have benefited from grants in the past. There isn’t much broadband news coming from the county. They seem unlikely to make the 2026 speed goals without community intervention but there are opportunities.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Watonwan is $2,113,406; broadband is one possible use.

Watonwan County has the opportunity to invest in broadband with federal funding. That would help them reach ubiquitous broadband. They are a red code community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 69.25 68.5 67.75 68.42 64.58
25/3 (2022 goal) 77.62 79.32 79.21 70.7 65.26

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Watonwan 85 69.8 8 48.3

Past grants:

  • 2017 – New Ulm Telecom, Inc. – Hanska A&D FTTP – GRANT $324,894
  • 2016 – NEW ULM TELECOM, INC. HANSKA – GRANT: $ 200,397
  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile – Grant award: $808,080

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Watonwan County (http://tinyurl.com/jpnf6xv)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 64 (down 4)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 9.74

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Washington County Broadband Profile 2021: Green rating: Ranking out 15 of 87

Rank: 15
Code: Green
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Washington County: nearly there with a grant in process

Washington County has some suburban areas and some rural areas. So, some areas attract providers while other areas need incentive. They will likely need incentive to get the last 4 percent of the county covered. But there are some opportunities

Washington County will benefit from a MN State Grant awarded in 2021:

  • Midco (Midcontinent Communications) – Scandia – GRANT $78,824 This last mile project will serve 78 underserved households and one underserved business in remote neighborhoods of Scandia in Washington County.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Washington is $50,898,622; broadband is one possible use.

Washington County has the opportunity to invest in broadband with federal funding. That would help them reach ubiquitous broadband. They are a code green community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 96.02 95.8 95.8 96.1 94.97
25/3 (2022 goal) 97.88 98.45 98.44 97.21 96.52

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Washington 94.6 87.6 3.2 70.3

Past grants

  • 2019: Midco (Midcontinent Communications) – Scandia Project – GRANT $510,358

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Washington County (http://tinyurl.com/z4dwzyy)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 15(down 3)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 254.43

Details:

  • Districts: CD 2, 4, 6
    Senate: 38, 39, 43, 53, 54
    House: 38A, 38B, 39A, 39B, 43A, 43B, 53A, 53B, 54A, 54B
  • Find your reps

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Waseca County Broadband Profile 2021: Red rating: Ranking out 52 of 87

Rank: 52
Code: Red
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Waseca County: stalled at 75 percent broadband access

Waseca County has been stalled at 75 percent access for several years. The good news is that Midco has extended gig access to parts of Le Sueur, Steele, Blue Earth, Freeborn, Waseca and Dodge Counties. The difficult news is that Waseca County is centered in an area that is in line for federal funding but whose potential recipient has stirred controversy.

LTD Broadband was awarded the opportunity to submit a long form to get federal funding (RDOF) to deploy FTTH throughout much of Minnesota, including parts of Waseca County. So they are in a sticky situation where they don’t know if LTD will get the funding, they don’t know if LTD will succeed if they do and they don’t know if they will qualify for federal or start funding because of the potential RDOF award.

Waseca County will benefit from a few MN State Grants awarded in 2021:

BEVCOMM (Cannon Valley Telecom, Inc.) – Rural Morristown Fiber Expansion Project – GRANT $210,692 This last mile project will serve approximately 14 unserved and 94 underserved locations in portions of Rice, Waseca, and Steele counties.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Waseca is $3,609,683; broadband is one possible use.

Waseca County has the opportunity to invest in broadband with federal funding. That would help them reach ubiquitous broadband. They may have providers that might help make that happen. They are a yellow code community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 75.02 75.34 75.2 75.06 98.75
25/3 (2022 goal) 78.65 83.92 82.19 75.3 98.75

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Waseca 87.4 73.7 5.5 58.6

Past grant:

None

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Waseca County (http://tinyurl.com/z845jwy)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 52 (down 7)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 17.15

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Wadena County Broadband Profile 2021: Green rating: Ranking out 13 of 87

Rank: 13
Code: Green
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Wadena County: close and still getting closer

Wadena County jumped from 49 percent access to 91 in 2019 and has been improving incrementally since then. They did a great in the last round and that might be the push they need to get to ubiquitous broadband.

Wadena County will benefit from a MN State Grant awarded in 2021:

West Central Telephone Association – Rural Staples Phase 2 – GRANT $465,050 This last mile project will serve 56 unserved locations in extremely rural areas of Wadena and Cass counties.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Wadena is $2,653,540; broadband is one possible use.

If the state grant doesn’t get the county to goal, they could try to encourage the community to invest in broadband with federal funding. That would help them reach ubiquitous broadband. They are a green code community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 97.29 95.53 91.07 49.91 45.69
25/3 (2022 goal) 97.36 95.53 93.01 92.37 88.23

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Wadena 84 67.9 8.2 47.8

Past grants:

  • 2015 – West Central Telephone Association Hwy 71 Wadena NORTH Expansion Project – Grant Award: $193,515
  • WCTA (West Central Telephone Association) – Rural Staples Phase I Project – GRANT $555,355

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Wadena County (http://tinyurl.com/z7xgkz8)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 13 (same)
  • Has worked with Blandin
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 9.82

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Wabasha County Broadband Profile 2021: Red rating: Ranking out 69 of 87

Rank: 69
Code: Red
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Wabasha County: still stalled at 66 percent access

Wabasha County has been stalled at 66 percent access since 2018 percent. They benefited from a state grant a few years ago. And will hopefully benefit from the most recent round of grants.

Wabasha County will benefit from a MN State Grant awarded in 2021:

  • Nuvera Communications, Inc. – Goodhue West FTTP – GRANT $532,232 This last mile project will serve 148 unserved and two underserved locations in Goodhue, Zumbrota, Minneola, and Belle Creek townships in Goodhue County and Chester Township in Wabasha County.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Wabasha is $4,194,423; broadband is one possible use.

Wbasha County has the opportunity to invest in broadband with federal funding. That would help them reach ubiquitous broadband. They are a red code community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 66.67 66.31 66.31 66.17 61.7
25/3 (2022 goal) 78.33 77.96 77.61 74.35 83.59

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Wabasha 88.1 76.4 5.6 57.4

Past grant:

  • 2016 – NEW ULM TELECOM, INC. MAZEPPA – GRANT: $ 317,761

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Wabasha County (http://tinyurl.com/gpllcg8)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 69 (down 6)
  • Has worked with Blandin: no
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 15.87

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Traverse County Broadband Profile 2021: Red rating: Ranking out 78 of 87

Rank: 80
Code: Red
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Traverse County: on bottom 10 list for broadband

With a population density of 2.6, Traverse is unlikely to get better service without community engagement. In 2018, they made a deal with a wireless provider; the county helped them to get started and set up. The provider has been successful but the connections available do not meet the 100/20 Mbps or 25/3 Mbps speed goals. But as someone from the county pointed out at the time, it was better than what they had.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Traverse is $632,063; broadband is one possible use.

Todd County may benefit from intervention, such as the Blandin Accelerate program, a process to spur community acquisition and deployment of federal and state broadband funds, to find an alternative solution especially with state and federal funding on the horizon. They are a code red community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 50.97 50.97 49.39 45.62 45.37
25/3 (2022 goal) 67.87 67.25 67.25 66.14 45.37

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Traverse 87.4 71.8 8.8 53.7

Past grants

none

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Traverse County (http://tinyurl.com/gmvojv8)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 80 (down 2)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: no
  • Household density: 2.25

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Todd County Broadband Profile 2021: Red rating: Ranking out 82 of 87

Rank: 82
Code: Red
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Todd County: on bottom 10 list for broadband

Working with the Blandin Foundation, Todd County has been focused on better broadband for a long time. They have benefited from MN Border to Border grants. In May 2019, CTC announced plans to build out to Todd County, which is likely the cause of the increase in access to 100/20 Mbps. They work hard but they run into barriers but there are some opportunities

Todd County will benefit from a few MN State Grants awarded in 2021:

  • Arvig (Tekstar Communications, Inc.) – Lake Osakis, Sauk Lake & Smith Lake Project – GRANT $486,458 This middle and last mile project will upgrade approximately 230 unserved and 39 underserved locations in Todd and Douglas counties.
  • Sytek Communications – Morrison/Todd/Stearns County FTTP Project – GRANT $1,048,668 This last mile project will bring service to 130 locations in Southwest Morrison, Southeastern Todd and Northeastern Stearns counties.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Todd is $4,783,431; broadband is one possible use.

Todd County may benefit from intervention, such as the Blandin Accelerate program, a process to spur community acquisition and deployment of federal and state broadband funds, to find an alternative solution especially with state and federal funding on the horizon. They are a code red community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 49.93 49.12 38.68 17.58 2.86
25/3 (2022 goal) 77.01 53.73 71.91 67.96 46.01

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Todd 82.5 67.5 8.4 46.8

Past grant:

  • 2017 – WCTA (West Central Telephone Association) – Northern Todd County – GRANT $902,695
  • 2014 – Arvig (Mainstreet Communications LLC), Sauk Lake area $
  • 2019: WCTA (West Central Telephone Association) – Rural Staples Phase I Project – GRANT $555,355

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Todd County (http://tinyurl.com/gl47tgq)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 82 (down 3)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 9.99

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)

Swift County Broadband Profile 2021: Green rating: Ranking out 5 of 87

Rank: 5
Code: Green
(See Blandin Foundation interactive map)

Swift County: Top five broadband access status

Swift County’s partnership with Federated Telephone, supported by a MN State grant, has provided nearly ubiquitous coverage. Swift has also been working with the Blandin Foundation as Blandin Broadband Community.

Projected allocation of American Recovery Project ARP funds in Swift is $1,797,084; broadband is one possible use.

They have the opportunity to invest in broadband with federal funding. That would help them reach ubiquitous broadband. They might not need much. They are a code green community.

Broadband Access:

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
100/20 (2026 goal) 99.5 99.5 99.6 64.15 30.41
25/3 (2022 goal) 99.54 99.54 99.64 99.64 78.95

Computer Access:

County Households with computer …with desktop or laptop …with ONLY  smartphone …with a tablet et al
State of MN 93.6% 80.6% 7.7% 63.8%
Swift 83.1 69.6 7.4 49.5

Past grants:

  • 2015 – Federated Telephone Cooperative – Swift County FTTP 2015 – Grant award: $4,950,000
  • 2015 – MVTV Wireless Middle Mile – Grant award: $808,080

Checklist:

  • Find more articles on broadband in Swift County (http://tinyurl.com/zfptnnz)
  • 100/20 Mbps ranking: 5 (down 1)
  • Has worked with Blandin: yes
  • Has received a MN Broadband grant: yes
  • Household density: 4.9

Details:

I am doing the annual look at broadband in each county – based on maps from the Office of Broadband Development and news gathered from the last year. I’m looking at progress toward the 2022 (25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up) and 2026 (100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up) and will code each:

  • Red (yikes)
  • Yellow (warning)
  • Green (good shape)