2019 MN Tribal Nation Broadband Profiles

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development published broadband maps and rates for tribal nations in Minnesota. I have created tribal nation profiles, similar to the county profiles I have done in the past. 

Here is a reminder of the data on the areas. Maps are only created for the areas in red below, subsequently those are the areas with profiles. (Most of the other categories are not geographically defined.)

Name Households (2010 estimate) Percent Fixed, Non-Mobile Broadband (25/3) Percent Broadband (100/20) Percent Wireline Broadband (25/3) Percent Wireline Broadband (100M/20M)
Bois Forte Reservation 294 20.12 0.00 20.12 0.00
Fond du Lac Off-Reservation Trust Land 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Fond du Lac Reservation 1530 30.96 19.50 29.99 19.50
Grand Portage Off-Reservation Trust Land 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Grand Portage Reservation 257 94.24 94.24 94.24 94.24
Ho-Chunk Nation Off-Reservation Trust Land 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Leech Lake Off-Reservation Trust Land 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Leech Lake Reservation 3930 91.68 65.01 91.68 65.01
Lower Sioux Indian Community 134 100.00 94.07 77.12 68.44
Mille Lacs Off-Reservation Trust Land 41 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Mille Lacs Reservation 1835 60.51 60.46 61.12 61.07
Minnesota Chippewa Trust Land 22 4.55 0.00 4.55 0.00
Prairie Island Indian Community 62 100.00 50.59 50.16 50.16
Prairie Island Off-Reservation Trust Land 20 100.00 90.95 90.95 90.95
Red Lake Reservation 1757 99.81 99.81 99.81 99.81
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community 116 50.00 50.00 44.36 31.98
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Off-Reservation Trust Land 189 88.00 66.15 79.59 48.48
Upper Sioux Community 48 100.00 52.48 0.00 0.00
Upper Sioux Off-Reservation Trust Land 1 100.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
White Earth Off-Reservation Trust Land 11 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
White Earth Reservation 3529 84.67 13.57 84.67 13.57

White Earth Reservation Broadband Profile: large reservation needs better service

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is White Earth Reservation

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 3529
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 84.67
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 13.57

White Earth is the largest reservation in Minnesota. It crosses into Mahnomen, Clearwater, Polk and Becker. I thought it might be most helpful to look at the reservation by county (because I can get more info by county), the providers in each area and the very high level (by looking at the map) quality of service.

County Mostly served/
unserved/underserved
Providers in the area
Becker underserved CenturyLink, Paul Bunyan, West Central Telephone
Clearwater served Garden Valley, Paul Bunyan
Mahnomen unserved CenturyLink
Polk served Garden Valley, Halstad, Midcontinent

 

In 2010, Garden Valley received a $34 million loan from the USDA and in 2015 a $12 million loan from the USDA for fiber deployment. In 2017, Garden Valley received a $1.3 million loan from a MN Border to Border Broadband grant specifically to serve areas in Mahnomen County, including portions of White Earth Reservation…

This last mile project will serve 214 unserved households, 17 unserved businesses, and 7 unserved community anchor institutions in Bejou and surrounding rural areas within Mahnomen County, including portions of the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota.

White Earth has long had an interest in broadband. In 2009, they unsuccessfully applied for ARRA Stimulus funds serve 315 households, total population 534. Also serving all community anchors including critical facilities, medical, public safety services, tribal government buildings, and the school will be served. In 2014, White Earth got $75,000 develop a program to use e-health to promote health and improve care coordination.  Also in 2014, they were part of a grant-funded project to build a network of high-definition video connections linking five institutions for education and telehealth.

Learn more about White Earth reservation demographics from Center for Indian Country Development.

Upper Sioux Community Broadband Profile: where fixed wireless makes the difference

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is Upper Sioux Community

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 48
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 0
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 0

I have been looking at wireline (not wireless) access for each tribal area; the map shows the same. For most communities the difference has been slim to none. That’s not true for Upper Sioux. Here is how they do for

  • Percent Fixed, Non-Mobile Broadband  (25/3): 100
  • Percent Fixed, Non-Mobile Broadband  (100/20): 52.48

The Upper Sioux community is mostly in Chippewa County but sneaks over to Yellow Medicine as well. LTD Broadband provides fixed wireless speeds beyond 100/20 in Chippewa and Yellow Medicine Counties. Advantenon provides service in Yellow Medicine.

Most communities strive for fiber access but the Upper Sioux has ubiquitous access to speed goals for 2022 with a technology that will scale to 2026 speeds. They just need to work on those upgrades.

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Broadband Profile: plenty of area providers but need expansion

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 116
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 44.36
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 31.98

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux reservation is located in Scott County – in noncontiguous sections. Looking at the map, the area near the Little Six Casino is served, areas in the southern part of the county have mixed service and the northmost section, which appears to be the largest section, is unserved.

There are quite a few providers (CenturyLink, Comcast, BEVComm, Jaguar, Lonsdale, Mediacom, Nuvera and Integra) that offer broadband access in Scott County. Usually where there’s competition, there’s greater chance of getting improvement.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux have demonstrated an appreciation for broadband. The tribe has donated to broadband projects in other areas (Browning, MT, Blackfeet Nation, MT and Northern Arapaho Tribe, NY). They supported a program where Native youth learned to use broadband and technology tools to share their stories and the stories of their culture. (The event was part of the 2015 Blandin Broadband conference.) The tribal newsroom highlighted the 2018 Farm Bill, mentioning specifically broadband opportunities.

Red Lake Reservation Broadband Profile: almost ubiquitous access to 100/20

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is Red Lake Reservation

Info on Access/Households:

 

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 1757
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 99.81
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 99.81

Red Lake Reservation is clearly in great shape when it comes to broadband access. When I looked at Beltrami and Clearwater last fall, Beltrami had 96 percent broadband coverage (by 2026 speed goal definition) and Clearwater had 89 percent. The reservation is doing better than the surrounding areas, which is unusual especially when the surrounding areas are doing well.

There are a few providers that offer those speeds (100/20) in the area. In Beltrami, there is CenturyLink, Garden Valley Telephone, MidContinent and Paul Bunyan; while in Clearwater there is only Garden Valley and Paul Bunyan.

In 2010, Garden Valley received a $34 million loan from the USDA and in 2015 a $12 million loan from the USDA for fiber deployment. Last summer (Aug 2018), Garden Valley received a USDA loan for $20 million specifically to build more fiber.

Learn more about Red Lake reservation demographics from Center for Indian Country Development.

Prairie Island Indian Community Broadband Profile: Good access, but need more of it

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is Prairie Island Indian Community

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 62
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 50.16
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 50.16

The good news is that the broadband that’s available to Prairie Island residents is good. The bad news is that only half the community is served. Prairie Island is located in Goodhue County. HBC has done some work with the community. There are several providers that offer broadband at speeds of 100/20 or better in the county, although that doesn’t mean they serve the whole Prairie Island community. But where there is competition nearby, there is a better chance for expansion.

The Prairie Island Indian Community owns and operates Treasure Island Resort and Casino. That is likely a good anchor customer for a broadband provider and I suspect the homes close to the casino are served.

 

Lower Sioux Indian Community Broadband Profile: 68 percent access to 100/20

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is Lower Sioux Indian Community

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 134
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 77.12
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 68.44

In April 2017, Mediacom announced that they upgraded their customers on the Lower Sioux Reservation to their GIg access. Those upgrades are likely represented in the stats above. And looking at the map, it appears as if the served area is in Renville County, which would be RS Fiber territory.

Clearly there is work to be done in the Lower Sioux but the good news is that the broadband they have is good broadband; they are not building broadband that will only be sufficient to meet the 2022 speed goals. They appear to be moving toward the future.

The Lower Sioux was able to participate in Blandin Broadband Community (BBC) project through a partnership with Redwood County.

Leech Lake Reservation Broadband Profile: 91 percent access to 100/20

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is Leech Lake Reservation

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 3930
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 91.68
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 65.01

Leech Lake has been focused on broadband for years. In the Summer of 2014, with support from the Blandin Foundation, Leech Lake started a 5-year plan to build a wireless network to serve homes on the reservation. Their plan at the time…

As part of a five-year build out plan, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will utilize their five existing towers plus three casino towers and build eight additional towers to provide wireless broadband service throughout its tribal lands including communities like Ball Club, Inger, S Lake, Cut Foot, West Winnie, Prescott, Oak Point, Sugar Point, Federal Dam, Kego Lake, Mission, Cass River, and Onigum, where broadband services were not previously available. The towers also will boost mobile service coverage along major highways throughout the tribal lands.

Last fall (Sep 2018), Paul Bunyan Communications announced expansion of the Gigazone to the Leech Lake Reservation. That will help increase the percentage of homes with access to 100/20 access. Paul Bunyan doesn’t serve the whole reservation but they have upgraded portions with a plan to upgrade more in the future. (You can see a recent map of the Gigazone online.)

Leech Lake worked on broadband adoption/digital inclusion projects with their involvement in MIRC, a Blandin Foundation initiative and precursor to the Blandin Broadband Communities. One project included digital inclusion training that led to job placement.

Learn more about Leech Lake reservation demographics from Center for Indian Country Development.

Grand Portage Reservation Broadband Profile: 94 percent access to 100/20

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is Grand Portage Reservation

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 257
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 94.24
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 94.24

Grand Portage Reservation is the Eastern part of Northern Minnesota. It is home to the Grand Portage Casino. Grand Portage has been working on better broadband, with Cook County and others through NESC middle mile project and the Arrowhead Electric Coop FTTH network.

The NESC got $43.5 million grant/loan for a 915 mile fiber optic middle mile project from ARRA stimulus funding back around 2010. Then they got funding for an extended network after the original ARRA funds. (Fond Du Lac and Bois Forte Reservations were also part of this project.)

Grand Portage worked on broadband adoption/digital inclusion projects with their involvement (via Cook County) in MIRC, a Blandin Foundation initiative, a precursor to the Blandin Broadband Communities. One project was a computer re-distribution project with PCs for People supplying donated computers to families that needed them.

Fond du Lac Reservation Broadband Profile: Planning a fiber network

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties. Here is Fond du Lac Reservation

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 1530
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 29.99
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 19.50

Fond du Lac has been working on better broadband (fiber plans) for years. They have partnered with the Blandin Foundation and the latest news (Fall 2018) is that they formed a broadband and have an ambitious plan

The band’s ambitious plan is to provide fiber-to-home high-speed broadband internet service to more than 1,800 homes, and anyone who lives in the network’s roughly 120-square mile service area, by 2020 — both band members and non-members alike.

Service is expected to begin at around $50 a month. People who live below the poverty line — which includes about a third of people living on the reservation — will qualify for subsidized rates.

They received $2 million from the USDA and $600,000 from HUD for the network.

Leading up to this FTTH network and with help from the Blandin Foundation, Fond du Lac built a wireless network around the reservation. They also worked with Blandin as a Blandin Broadband Community member. They had a range of projects from ebusiness training and an app development camp for kids.

Learn more about Fond du Lac demographics from Center for Indian Country Development. (Data extends beyond MN.)

Bois Forte Reservation Broadband Profile: No access to 100/20 broadband

Earlier this year, the Office of Broadband Development released data and maps on broadband coverage of tribal areas. The numbers are high level or maybe more reflective than exact but it’s a great start on getting a handle on what’s happening in tribal areas. I thought I’d do a profile of each area, much like I have done for Minnesota Counties – starting with Bois Forte Reservation.

Info on Access/Households:

  • Number of households (2010 estimate): 294
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2022 speed goal (25/3): 20.12
  • Percent Wireline Broadband 2026 speed goal (100/20): 0

Clearly the reservation is not in great shape. The access to 25/3 speeds is not good and no one is connected to 100/20. But they are working on it.

The Bois Forte Band has been part of a Blandin Broadband Community (BBC). With Cook and Orr Minnesota, they were the GRIZZLIES and they joined the BBC in January 2017. They worked on various training opportunities and fixed up some of the community centers. Here is a recap from a Blandin Foundation Assessment

Access and use are key concerns for the area. The population density is sparse, and many people are without access to the Internet at home. The region is working with existing providers and making the most of increased access via CenturyLink with CAF II funding, improved cellular service, and fiber access on Bois Forte Reservation.

Last summer, CenturyLink talked about upgrading to DSL in the area, but the reservation is focusing on fiber.