Murray County Broadband Profile: current ranking 51

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.

Murray County broadband ranking has improved from 53 to 51. It looks like all of the expansion has happened at the 100/20 speeds so while the increase in not big, it is building for the future.

Earlier this year (2018) Murray County released a feasibility study

The studies looked at the business plan for bringing fiber to the service area. The vast majority of the study area has (or will soon have) fixed wireless broadband. This technology can deliver broadband connections in the range of 25 Mbps download, and sometimes faster.

However, we know the county’s goal is to eventually have fiber everywhere and the current wireless broadband is not a permanent bandwidth solution. Broadband trends show that the amount of bandwidth needed by a typical home will keep growing, and at some time in the future these wireless networks will seem too slow and become obsolete in the same manner that has happened in the past with dial-up and DSL broadband.

Our analysis shows that it is not economically feasible to build fiber everywhere in the rural parts of the county using the existing Border-to-Border grant program—the 50% grant matching in that program is not high enough to create a sustainable network. However, it would be possible to fund fiber using these grants if the percent of the grant matching is increased above the 50% level used in awarding these grants today. It might also be feasible to build the fiber in stages over multiple years to get the needed grant funding.

It is likely to be a challenge for a service provider to building fiber today since almost all of the rural area is served with newly-built fixed wireless technology that is capable of delivering speeds of at least 25 Mbps download. Any potential fiber provider is going to worry that many households will be satisfied with that level of broadband speed.

And a subsequent article in the local paper says even more about their plans…

“The county does not plan to build a broadband network but is open to talking with providers who are interested in extending service to our citizens and may need financial assistance to do so,” Rucker said. “Murray County had the feasibility study completed so that any provider who wants to extend broadband service to our unserved and underserved areas could use the study as background to apply for state or federal grants to do so.”

The county has seen significant broadband investment from Woodstock since 2015, when it installed two wireless broadband towers around Lake Shetek. It continued over the last two years, installing eight internet coverage sites in the area, including towers in Lake Wilson, Slayton and Edgerton. The company plans to add another tower south of Chandler this year.

The towers, which are fed with fiber, provide 50Mbps download speeds at a range of six miles, according to Terry Nelson, Woodstock general manager. The speeds and service can vary, however, as wireless internet can be disrupted by geographical features such as hills, trees and windmills.

“We’ve done wireless in a lot of these areas, but there’s still little pockets that we can’t hit with some of our wireless,” Nelson said. “I would definitely never say the county is 100 percent covered, because it’s not.”

There’s a push for use in the schools

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.

Also, AT&T has announced improvements in the area. And Mediacom has announced planned improvement to Gig access in the county, specifically Fulda, Hadley, Slayton, Nicollet County, Lafayette and Saint Peter.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 50.47 51.00
100/20 41.65 50.78

The speeds reflect the Minnesota speed goals:

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

Current ranking for 100/20 access: 51

Brown County Broadband Profile: Current ranking – 27

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.

Brown County ranking has slipped from 24 to 27 but that is probably more reflective of accelerated growth in other counties than any problem in Brown County. While the growth has been modest, they have seen some increase in coverage of 100/20 access.

They sought state funding in 2017 but didn’t get it; so they are working on improvements.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 95.92 96.31
100/20 72.89 73.76

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: 27

MN Broadband Task Force September meeting: final report is finalized

The Task Force met today. There are some good notes – and discussion on the CAF II auction. Mostly they went over their final report. Here are the recommendations:

Policy Recommendations:

  1. Fund the Office of Broadband Development through the base budget at levels sufficient for it to meet its statutory mandates and create an OBD operating fund to advance and promote programs and projects to promote broadband adoption and use.
  2. Provide on-going biennial funding of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grants Program at $69.7 million per biennia until the state achieve its broadband speeds goals
  3. Continue to understand the advances in the technology that will drive both the demand for better broadband access and that will enable the delivery if the broadband access to its citizens
  4. Provide direct funding to the DEED for broadband mapping.
  5. Establish a legislative cybersecurity commission, whose scope of work includes: information -sharing between policy-makers, state agencies, and private industry related to Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, cybersecurity workforce issues and emerging technology to: (a) develop legislative to support and strengthen Minnesota’s cybersecurity infrastructure, and (b) provide input or recommendations related to developing a multi-year strategic plan to secure Minnesota’s IT Environments.
  6. Adequately fund the Telecommunications Access Equity Aid and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid.
  7. Continue a MN Broadband Task Force as a resource to the Governor and the Legislature on the broadband policy with a broad representation of perspectives and experiences, including provider, community business and labor interests.

 

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Catching up with broadband projects in Mountain Iron/Buhl MN: Cool forest education program, new school equipment and feasibility study

Today we’re in Mountain Iron talking with people about their broadband projects.  They have been part of a project (IRBC) with the Blandin Foundation and IRRRB focused on increasing use of broadband in the area. It was especially fun to hear about a cool project in the school, They have a school forest. Through this program, high school students set up cameras and learned how to develop some programming for younger kids (5th grade) to learn more about forestry. They had some other fun things too – you can read more and see the video below. Continue reading

Gubernatorial candidates prepared to invest in broadband

MinnPost reported on a recent debate in Mankato. They focused mostly rural-urban equity issues – and the difficulty in getting all of the major candidates to the rural forums. But tt seems like across  parties and at for those who showed up – broadband is an issue that all of willing to address…

Earlier that day, Walz had unveiled his “One Minnesota Community Prosperity Plan,” which includes a pledge to build out the broadband network with state grants. Murphy this week said she would dedicate any new revenue resulting from the state’s collecting sales tax on internet sales to broadband infrastructure. And Johnson said broadband build out would be one of the few areas where he might suspend his no-new-spending promises.

INFORUM covered the debate and mentioned broadband…

Hours before the forum, Walz announced that if elected, he would launch a One Minnesota Community Prosperity Plan, with city and tribal leaders involved. It would, he said, increase spending on Local Government Aid, infrastructure, broadband and workforce housing.

KSTP covered it too and broadband came up…

“We need to make sure people have access to affordable health care and we’ve got to rein in costs at the same time,” Murphy said. “We’ve got to invest in our schools across the state because we haven’t caught up with 2003 and inflation. We have to invest in roads and bridges and broadband.”

Twice…

The event also centered on other issues facing greater Minnesota including increased broadband, access to child care and protecting agriculture.

Story also ran in Minneapolis Star Tribune. 

Catching up with broadband projects in Chisholm MN: Hotspots everywhere, connected Discovery Center, portal, and hopes for the schools

Back on the road, today we’re in Chisholm talking with people about their broadband projects.  They have been part of a project (IRBC) with the Blandin Foundation and IRRRB focused on increasing use of broadband in the area. I’ll include full notes below – but a couple of highlights…

Around Chisholm, kids can spend hours on the bus. Hotspots on the buses have been a treat for the students and maybe even more so for the drivers. They recently unveiled an area portal that features a shared calendar and social media feeds from various partners. They upgraded connectivity st the Discovery Center. And it was fun to hear about big plans for remote classes in the school.  Continue reading

MN Broadband Task Force July Meeting: MN broadband reports & draft Task Force report

Today the Task Force met to hear from the Minnesota Broadband Coalition on their recommendations for the Legislature, from the USDA and the potential of the $600 million in federal broadband funding from Bill Coleman on deployment of federal funding (CAF 2) and the impact on reaching Minnesota broadband speed goals and I talked about the community benefits of public investment in broadband.

Also, the discussed their final report – starting with a draft each committee contributed to individually. The next meeting with be September 6.

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