Wright County Broadband Profile: current ranking 21

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.

Wright County broadband ranking has bumped from 65 to 21!

Through Midco, Wright received state funding in the last round of grants

Midco (Midcontinent Communications), Annandale East – $537,050. This project will build out improved broadband service to 40 unserved households, and 531 underserved households and 7 underserved businesses, in the area northeast of Annandale near Bass Lake and Clearwater Lake in Wright County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Midco will improve broadband service levels to up to 1 Gbps upload and download, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal. Residents will be able to increase work and business development opportunities, and complete a quality education online through this extension from the broadband system Midco recently built in Annandale. The total eligible cost is $1,074,100, with a $537,050.

Historically, Wright County is home to Monticello, one of the famous of infamous municipal broadband networks out there. Monticello built their own fiber network – but in process the incumbent also built a fiber network and even sued the city. It looks like Monticello is continuing to bring in competition and looking at the numbers the providers are reaching outside the city limits.

Mediacom has announced upgrades to the Gig program in Howard Lake.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 81.17 87.89
100/20 29.26 80.61

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: 21

Winona County Broadband Profile: current ranking 15

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.

Winona County broadband ranking has bumped up from 17 to 15. The coverage for 25/3 access is the same as 100/20; they are planning for the future, they just need more expansion.

Last March, Chris Mitchell of Institute for Local Self Reliance had Gary Evans of HBC on his podcast. It is an interesting history of broadband in Winona. A really nice case study.

Broadband is always a hot topic around Winona. They have interesting digital inclusion programs through local provider Project FINE, such as a coding class for kids. The opposite end of digital inclusion, Red Wing Ignite continues to work with kids, businesses and entrepreneurs and recently joined the Growing Smart Gigabit Communities program.

Winona has been the beneficiary of state grants. Mediacom has announced upgrades to the Gig program in Winona, specifically in Dakota and St. Charles City.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 92.13 86.48
100/20 81.17 86.31

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: 15

Wilkin County Broadband Profile: current ranking 20

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.

Wilkin County broadband ranking has remained steady at 20. There coverage for access to 25/3 and 100/20 is about the same. They are building for the future, they just need more expansion. (In eight years, they have gone from one of the worst to number 20 for 2026 goals.)

Good news is that through Advantenon, Wilkins County received state funding in the last round of grants.…

Advantenon, Rural Grant, Stevens and Wilkin Counties – $316,554. This project will serve 528 unserved households, 132 unserved businesses, and 8 unserved community anchor institutions in eligible areas across these three western Minnesota counties. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Advantenon will improve broadband service levels to 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload, exceeding the state speed goal set for the year 2026. This project delivers the goal of Border to Border coverage for all residents of the covered counties, benefiting residents, businesses and public entities alike through enhanced access to healthcare services, education options, entertainment and business connectivity not previously possible. The total eligible project cost is $659,488, with a $342,934 local match.

Local provider Red River Communications is proud of their local coverage

The communities we serve in Richland County were awarded the status of “Smart Rural Communities” by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association. Our entire fiber network earned Red River Communications the designation of being a “Gig Capable Certified Provider,” meaning every single one of our members on our fiber network in Richland and Wilkin counties can receive true gigabit Internet speeds.

This year, community leaders in Wilkin county have been vocal about their broadband needs:

In March, Minnesota Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, and Rep. Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, held a town hall meeting at Breckenridge City Hall where broadband was a hot topic.

In April Wilkin Commissioner testified in St Paul for rural broadband funding. County Commissioner Klindt said…

His aerial applicator company covers a three-state area where agriculture is king. “Frustrating,” is the polite word he would use to express his feelings about the internet service available to track weather and planes.

He used a wireless service for 10 years, but it was slow. “Dial-up was faster,” he said. It took several minutes to load a single map that takes seconds for anyone in most other areas of the state. “I just switched to satellite only to find the service drops when weather moves in — which is when I need it most!”

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 80.84 86.53
100/20 80.84 82.08

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: 20

Watonwan County Broadband Profile: current ranking 34

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.

Watonwan County broadband ranking has slipped from 31 to 34. Although the actually coverage has increased since last year.

New Ulm Telecom did get a state grant in the last round of funding that should help with Watonwan’s ranking…

New Ulm Telecom, Hanska A&D FTTP – $324,894. This last mile project will serve 9 unserved households and 38 unserved businesses in the Hanska area south of New Ulm near the border of Brown and Watonwan Counties. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, New Ulm Telecom, Inc. will improve broadband service levels to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal. This Fiber-to-the-Premises network will provide reliable, affordable, high quality broadband to rural farms, businesses, and homes. Broadband access will enable these businesses and residences to use new technology and tools to grow and enhance their business and community, including increased access to health care and education. The total eligible cost is $721,988, with a $397,094 local match.

Also AT&T has announced investment in the area and Mediacom has announced Gigupgrades in the county, specifically Butterfield and St James.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 65.26 70.70
100/20 64.58 68.42

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: 34

Washington County Broadband Profile: current ranking 9

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.

Washington County broadband ranking has held steady at 9. The access has actually increased in the last year. They are in good shape with 96 percent coverage.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 96.52 97.21
100/20 94.97 96.10

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: 9

Waseca County Broadband Profile: current ranking 25

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.

Waseca County Broadband ranking has dipped from 3 to 25. It looks as if the coverage has gone down, but this might actually reflect different maps. The maps from last year included fixed wireless solutions; this year it’s wired only.

But Waseca should see even better results in the future. Consolidated Communications is upgrading parts of Waseca County – although that will only include speeds up to 80 Mbps, all competitively priced. And Mediacom has announced upgrades to gig service in Janesville, Waldorf and Waseca.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 98.75 75.30
100/20 98.75 75.06

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: 25

Wadena County Broadband Profile: current ranking 53

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.

Wadena County broadband ranking has dipped from 49 to 53. They are in that precarious place where most of the county has access to 23/5, which is adequate to do lots of things. SO they may not recognize that there’s a potential problem.  But as more people get faster speeds, applications will be designed for faster speeds and without a concerted effort to improve, Wadena may fall behind.

However there may have been improvements in 2018 that aren’t reflected in the chart below, as the local paper reports…

Unserved households and businesses in Wadena, Otter Tail and Todd Counties will be on the receiving end of high-speed internet access in 2018.

Townships receiving broadband include Wadena (Wadena), Compton (Otter Tail) and a small portion of Stowe Prairie Township (Todd).

West Central Telephone of Menahga and Sebeka received its third state grant and will be bringing high-speed internet service to 189 homes and 13 businesses next year.

According to West Central Marketing Director Geri Salmela, the telephone cooperative will be matching the state’s grant of $874,581 with a contribution of their own of $947,463.

The total cost of the project has been set at $1,822,044.

And certainly the latest grant awarded in the area wouldn’t be reflected…

West Central Telephone Association, Wadena Rural Phase III – $874,581. This last mile project will serve 189 unserved households and 13 unserved businesses within Compton Township in Otter Tail County as well as portions of Wadena Township in Wadena County and in Stowe Prairie Township in Todd County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota and several regional development organizations, West Central Telephone Association will improve broadband service levels to 1 Gbps down and up, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal. Building a fiber to the home network capable of Gigabit broadband service will finally provide residents and businesses with the reliable connectivity they have asked for and need. Students and instructors will be able to complete their work from home; healthcare professionals will have access to medical records and the ability to provide telehealth services; and businesses and farmers will have access to applications and online tools to boost their efficiency. The total eligible cost is $1,822,044, with a $947,463 local match.

And people in the area are talking about broadband. In a debate between District 9A Candidates (Incumbent Rep. John Poston, R-Lake Shore, and DFL challenger Alex Hering) ended up  talking about broadband. And West Central Telephone’s President Bruce Kinnunen and General Manager/CEO Chad Bullock recently participated in legislative visits in St. Paul with the Minnesota Telecom Alliance for their annual Day on the Hill event.

Part of what initiates and continues the conversation is the region-wide efforts as a Blandin Broadband Community

The Resilient Region is a five county collaborative (Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena) working to create a sustainable and inclusive region through the disciplines of housing, transportation, natural environment, and economic development to improve the quality of life of all residents. Broadband connectivity is an critical component of the Resilient Region Plan; in fact, they found that broadband touched every edge of the other projects they were working on – positioning them well to begin their work as a Blandin Broadband Community.

The Region’s connectivity priorities include: improved and expanded broadband access across the region with a focus on fiber, using technology to retain businesses and encourage entrepreneurism, ensuring Internet access for all children, and identifying additional funding and service partners.

Info on Access:

Speeds % served 2017 % served 2018
25/3 88.23 92.37
100/20 45.69 49.91

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: 53