2020 MN Broadband County Ranking for speeds of 100/20 – how do you rank?

The new MN County broadband maps are now up on the Office of Broadband Development websites- showing percentage of each county with (and without) broadband access. Earlier I looked at how counties ranked for access to 25/3 (the 2022 MN State speed goal) soon I’ll look at Gig access. You can download the full spreadsheet of MN county details for speeds or 100/20 and Gig.

Here I look at how counties rank for access to 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up (the 2026 speed goal).

Top 10 MN Counties for Speeds of 100/20 (drum roll please)

  1. Rock 99.93
  2. Ramsey 99.84
  3. Lac qui Parle 99.57
  4. Swift 99.5
  5. Beltrami 99.25
  6. Hennepin 98.97
  7. Big Stone 98.6
  8. Dakota 97.42
  9. Anoka 97.14
  10. Pennington 96.95

The counties in bold are returning to the Top 10 list. Pennington is a new addition; they replace Stevens, which comes in at number 11 with a percentage of 96.79. Congrats and nice work to these counties‼

Bottom 10 MN Counties for Speeds of 100/20 (starting with worst)

  1. Kanabec 26.41
  2. Redwood 36.48
  3. Yellow Medicine 37.71
  4. Pine 39.13
  5. Lincoln 40.42
  6. Faribault 40.56
  7. Aitkin 46.66
  8. Isanti 48.63
  9. Todd 49.12
  10. Traverse 50.97

The counties in bold are returning to the Bottom 10 list. I want to congratulate the counties that are off the bottom 10 list!!

  • Becker from 87 to 50 (with 73 percent coverage up from 6 percent last year!)
  • Otter Tail from 82 to 64 (with 66 percent coverage)
  • Norman from 85 to 73 (with 54 percent coverage)
  • Mahnomen from 86 to 53 (with 72 percent coverage)

Finally my favorite statistic – the most improved counties.

Top 10 Most Improved County by ranking

  1. Becker improved by 37
  2. Mahnomen improved by 33
  3. Hubbard improved by 27
  4. Roseau improved by 10
  5. Isanti improved by 8
  6. Kittson improved by 8
  7. Norman improved by 8
  8. Grant improved by 7
  9. Clay improved by 6
  10. Lac qui Parle improved by 6

You can download a spreadsheet of ranking for 2019 and 2020. Or see the full list below. I know the table will not transfer well to the website BUT it will be searchable.)

Rank 2020 Ranking 2019 Change in rank
Aitkin 81 80 -1
Anoka 9 8 -1
Becker 50 87 37
Beltrami 5 6 1
Benton 21 20 -1
Big Stone 7 5 -2
Blue Earth 42 39 -3
Brown 47 44 -3
Carlton 76 73 -3
Carver 20 23 3
Cass 66 68 2
Chippewa 29 31 2
Chisago 52 51 -1
Clay 23 29 6
Clearwater 22 17 -5
Cook 14 13 -1
Cottonwood 62 59 -3
Crow Wing 26 21 -5
Dakota 8 7 -1
Dodge 43 41 -2
Douglas 56 56 0
Faribault 82 77 -5
Fillmore 75 70 -5
Freeborn 27 25 -2
Goodhue 46 50 4
Grant 68 75 7
Hennepin 6 4 -2
Houston 57 57 0
Hubbard 18 45 27
Isanti 80 72 8
Itasca 28 27 -1
Jackson 58 55 -3
Kanabec 87 84 -3
Kandiyohi 48 47 -1
Kittson 35 43 8
Koochiching 59 46 -13
Lac qui Parle 3 9 6
Lake 15 14 -1
Lake of the Woods 72 65 -7
Le Sueur 54 52 -2
Lincoln 83 76 -7
Lyon 36 30 -6
Mahnomen 53 86 33
Marshall 61 66 5
Martin 71 64 -7
McLeod 70 63 -6
Meeker 74 74 0
Mille Lacs 69 67 -2
Morrison 55 53 -2
Mower 40 36 -4
Murray 77 69 -8
Nicollet 41 37 -4
Nobles 34 40 6
Norman 73 85 8
Olmsted 16 15 -1
Otter Tail 64 82 -2
Pennington 10 11 1
Pine 84 81 -3
Pipestone 37 35 -2
Polk 17 19 2
Pope 51 54 3
Ramsey 2 2 0
Red Lake 30 26 -4
Redwood 86 83 -3
Renville 65 62 -3
Rice 31 28 -3
Rock 1 1 0
Roseau 38 48 10
Scott 19 18 -1
Sherburne 49 49 0
Sibley 67 61 -6
St. Louis 39 38 -1
Stearns 33 32 -1
Steele 25 22 -3
Stevens 11 10 -1
Swift 4 3 -1
Todd 79 79 0
Traverse 78 71 -7
Wabasha 63 60 -3
Wadena 13 16 3
Waseca 45 42 -3
Washington 12 12 0
Watonwan 60 58 -2
Wilkin 44 34 -10
Winona 24 24 0
Wright 32 33 1
Yellow Medicine 85 78 -7

Venture Forward: socioeconomic factors impact venture growth, venture growth impacts community prosperity

Last month, Go Daddy released Venture Forward, a report on the impact of local ventures on a community and impact of community on local ventures. It looks at how different socioeconomic factors affect venture growth and compare city rankings across our database of 900+ U.S. city regions. Here’s a description of the report from Daily Yonder

A new dataset from GoDaddy (a large retailer of website domain names and hosting services) provides some new insight into this topic.  The data focuses on “ventures” which are defined as individual domain names with an active website.  Using data from over 20 million websites, GoDaddy has developed an intriguing measure of broadband use by assessing how many ventures exist per 100 people.  GoDaddy estimates that about 75% of the active websites are business-oriented (as opposed to nonprofit or personal sites).

Here is the map from the Daily Yonder site that caught my attention – it highlights venture density in non-metrocounties – the darker the color, the greater the venture density…

You can see the diversity in venture density with a nod to cook for higher percentage! (For something really good you can check out the growth of ventures in an intereactive map on Go Daddy, track May 2018 to Dec 2019. Check out your county especially if you know there’s been a change in broadband access or other factors in your area!)

So what does is mean for a community to have a greater density or more active ventures?

  • Each new venture per 100 people increases the predicted prosperity of a county by an average of 0.4 pts; or 1.4 pts if the venture is highly-active
  • On average, counties with 2.5 or more ventures per 100 people saw a net gain in economic prosperity since the Great Recession of 2008.
  • Adding one highly active venture per 100 people in a county increases median income by $331 on average or over 19%

Go Daddy makes this info available at the county-level. I have also looked at Minnesota counties and the report – for another post.

Get a nice high level look on why this is valuable:

(In the spirit of full disclosure I host a few dozens websites with GO Daddy and have for 20 years.)

Lack of broadband adds to rural vulnerability to COVID-19

Alexandria Echo Press reports that COVID-19 was slower to come to rural counties, but it’s catching up at a faster rate…

For two weeks ending April 27, rural counties saw a 125% increase in coronavirus cases (from 51 to 115 cases per 100,000 people) and a 169% increase in deaths (from 1.6 to 4.4 deaths per 100,000 people), according to that study.

During that same time period, metro counties saw a 68% increase in cases (from 195 cases per 100,000 people to 328) and a 113% increase in deaths (from 8.0 deaths per 100,000 people to 17.0).

Lack of broadband is a contributing factor…

Coronavirus is poised to hammer the rural health care system, which Henning-Smith said was stressed long before the coronavirus appeared. Since 2010, 128 rural hospitals have closed, eight of them in 2020 alone, while the virus has set many of them teetering on the edge of collapse, Henning-Smith said.

Rural health care systems also face a major shortage of healthcare workers, she said, while people living in rural areas tend to be older, with more underlying health concerns and disability, and less likely to have health insurance than their urban counterparts. Rural residents also are more likely to have less access to broadband internet, finding it difficult to work from home or order groceries online, and also be unemployed.

“Altogether, this puts rural residents at higher risk of COVID-19,” she said.

Teachers without broadband are working all hours in odd places

Last week I wrote about the teacher in Spring Valley MN, who does her work at 1am, because that’s when the Internet works for her. Then she wakes up her second grade daughter at 5am to do her work . Not only is that crazy for them – it means the teacher cannot communicate effectively with her students during the school day and the daughter can’t communicate with her teachers. The idea of streamed classes is impossible for them – and therefore likely for the whole class and indeed school.

CNN tells a similar story that I’ll share below. Now is a good time to share these stories because there’s a fix for this problem. As a country, as an industry we know how to expand and improve broadband. I remember talking to Governor Walz at an event related to homelessness. We spoke briefly about broadband and he said – now that’s one we can win. Homelessness is more difficult. Technology alone won’t solve it. It’s the same with COVID-19. We don’t know how to win that one yet. The recommendations are far-reaching, which could indicate that we’re gong to be here a while.

So why not fix one big problem ? Fix broadband. It will take a big check but we can do it. And once we do – these teachers can teach, students can learn, more and more people can work from home. More and more people can watch Netflix from home, which is turns out is the ironically named killer app. So with that in mind, here’s another story from CNN

Every Sunday since the coronavirus lockdown started, Stephanie Anstey drives 20 minutes from her home in Grottoes, Virginia, to sit in her school’s near-empty parking lot and type away on her laptop.

Anstey, a middle school history teacher, lives in a valley between two mountains, where the only available home internet option is a satellite connection. Her emails can take 30 seconds to load, only to quit mid-message. She can’t even open files on Google Drive, let alone upload lesson modules or get on a Zoom call with colleagues.

“You just have to plan,” Anstey said. “It’s not a Monday through Friday job anymore.”

So Anstey’s new office is in her car in the corner of the parking lot where the WiFi signal is strongest. She comes here when she needs to upload instructional videos, answer emails from students and parents or participate in the occasional video conferencing call. It’s not ideal, she says, but using her slow internet at home is even more frustrating.

Anstey’s predicament casts a new light on a longstanding digital divide that is being made even starker by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonprofits in rural areas suffer during coronavirus quarantine

Duluth News Tribune report on the impact of the coronavirus quarantine on nonprofits…

Kate Barr is the president of Propel Nonprofits, which serves organizations in Minnesota and surrounding states. She described this past month like weathering a storm.

“There’s a shared experience of this kind of fast-paced change; it’s just like standing on a beach and waves are hitting and hitting and hitting. And so leaders of nonprofits are frankly having to react to those waves as they hit,” she said.

Recognizing that it’s even tougher on nonprofits in rural Minnesota…

Barr pointed out that nonprofits in rural areas often face additional technological and communications challenges in serving clients spread over a large geographic area.

While fundraising events are canceled, Barr said the need for some nonprofits’ services are increasing. Food shelves remain open and busy. Mental health and counseling services have shifted to telehealth, which cuts down on travel in rural areas but requires reliable home broadband access.

As for museums and groups focused on the arts and education, some have gone dark for now, or have postponed their season openings. Many have gone digital as they try to chart a new course.

The article offers no solutions, just a hint of hope…

“The people that we work with in the arts world, they’re the creatives — and if anybody can come up with ways to adapt (it’s them). I have great faith that they’re going to respond.”

Minnesota Media talking up the need for better broadband

You know broadband is getting traction when you see it discussed on statewide television shows. WCCO-TV (CBSMinnesota) focuses on the need for better broadband for students trying to do distance learning…

The state estimates that 16% of Minnesotan’s do not have access to internet with speeds of at least 25 megabits per second. That is what you need to be able to participate in a teleconference.

But the state acknowledges even more Minnesotan’s have internet access that is not fast enough to download and play videos — it’s an issue that has been around since the internet has existed.  The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted this issue of internet haves and have nots. …

But as the pandemic continues with no clear end in sight, the issue of equal internet access will almost certainly gain more urgency.

Fox9 covers the broadband bill discussed in the House yesterday…

“COVID-19 has shown the need for broadband now more than ever,” said state Representative Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls).

Rep. Ecklund has introduced a bill creating the Distance Learning Broadband Access Grant Program. It provides $8 million in grant money to reimburse schools for providing wireless or wired service to students through the end of the school year. It also includes $2 million in grants to medical facilities for telemedicine hookups and an additional $10 million for the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Fund.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development says the extra money to the broadband fund alone could hookup about 3,600 locations.

“A $10 million state investment could bring connectivity to approximately 2 percent of the estimated 163,000 households that lack a 25-by-3 service today,” said Angela Dickison, the DEED broadband development manager.

Remember sneaker-net? MN’s Iron Range is working on schoolbus-net!

Every parent knows, distance education is hard. It’s been tiring to just hear what families without broadband are doing. Over the weekend, KSTP News tracked a day in the life of distance learning on the Iron Range. Something about the story reminded me of the days when businesses I worked with used to refer to their networks as sneaker-net, which really meant no network. They put files on disk and ran the disk from one computer to the next, whether that was from one office to the next or form the tractor to the computer on the kitchen table. We need to fix the inequity.

See what you think and imagine what a difference ubiquitous broadband would mean on the Iron Range…

Inside the Mountain Iron-Buhl High School cafeteria, Principal James Jotter watches as support staff begins their daily ritual of organizing worksheets and books in folders labeled with each student’s name and address.

The staff then staple together brown bags that hold prepackaged meals for students who qualify for free and reduce lunches. The meals and the packets are then loaded onto school buses.

When the school bell rings at 3:10 p.m., drivers board their empty school buses and drive their normal routes, delivering the curriculum to families waiting at the stops.

“The first day that we did this, I’ve never seen them so excited to see me to be honest,” said bus driver Casey Hultgren. “They started chanting my name.”

He makes a dozen stops along his new normal route, including right to the driveway of several rural homes in the area, where curriculum packets are left in mailboxes.

“When we drop it off, we pick up any work they have completed and bring it to the teachers,” Jotter said.

Students are encouraged to send work back virtually, but Jotter acknowledged that the lack of broadband availability makes that impossible for some, and he worries about the lasting impacts of the inequity.