Broadband Access Continues to Expand in Minnesota

Connect Minnesota has released a new update on broadband access in Minnesota.  There are still over 5% of rural households that don’t have access to even the most rudimentary broadband service.  And as MPR observes, broadband access is NOT distributed evenly across Greater Minnesota.

The 10 megabit service map above is striking in it’s asymmetry, ranging from 0% service across broad swaths of Central and Southern Minnesota, to 99% of Ramsey County (St. Paul).  I’m fortunate to have 10 Mbps service through my cable provider here in a county seat town.  Even with that I experience noticeable service degradation when the kids come home and start playing Halo online or whatever they do to hog the broadband.  Broadband is like air—you don’t really miss it until it’s not there.

Analysis shows that broadband access gap in Minnesota shrinking; More households have access at state and FCC speed tier goals

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St Paul, MN – New research unveiled…by Connect Minnesota shows that the broadband availability gap in Minnesota is shrinking, with 85.09% of Minnesota residents now having access to broadband speeds of 6 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload, compared to 81.20% last October. In addition, 59.92% of Minnesota households can access broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps download/6 Mbps upload – the minimum speed threshold for Minnesota’s goal of ubiquitous broadband availability – a nearly 3% increase from October 2011.

“It is encouraging to see that the efforts of providers and all state stakeholders to increase broadband access are showing clear results,” said Connect Minnesota Program Manager Bill Hoffman. “These efforts, however, must continue in order to bring the empowering technology of broadband to the roughly 2 percent of Minnesota residents who remain unserved. And while the majority of the state can access basic broadband speeds, our 2011 survey results show 28% of the population still does not use broadband at home.”

Nonprofit Connect Minnesota has been working since 2009 to ensure that Minnesota residents have access to the economic, educational, and quality of life benefits derived from increased broadband access, adoption, and use. Part of that work includes mapping Minnesota’s broadband availability and providing analysis to the Broadband Taskforce, broadband providers, policymakers, and community planners.

Among the findings of the new broadband availability research are:

  • 85.09% of Minnesota households can access broadband at advertised speeds of 6 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload, meaning that 311,000 households are in areas that may be eligible for Universal Service Fund broadband deployment subsidies
  • 59.92% of Minnesota households can access broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps download/6 Mbps upload – the minimum speed threshold for Minnesota’s goal of ubiquitous broadband availability*
  • 94.83% of rural households in Minnesota have access to broadband
  • 67.66% of Minnesota households have access to broadband speeds of at least 100 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload. In October 2011, only 45.30% of households in Minnesota had access to these broadband speeds
  • Broadband at the basic 768 Kbps/200 Kbps tier is available to 97.77% of Minnesota households, up from 97.08% last October
  • 88.1% of Minnesota households have the ability to choose broadband service from two or more non-mobile broadband providers

Note: The data in this report are subject to data validation.

*Minnesota Statute 237.012 indicates upload goal of 5 Mbps. Data collection only conforms with speed tiers as represented in the SBI NOFA where 6 Mbps is the most comparable upload speed tier. This means that across the state, approximately 837,000 households are not connected to services that meet the state’s target.

Last month, Connect Minnesota released an innovative new broadband mapping tool called My ConnectView offering unmatched views of Minnesota’s technology landscape. Residents and businesses are encouraged to use the interactive map to find area providers and help validate the data.

Connect Minnesota’s research was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative (SBI) grant program, funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The data were gathered in accordance with the requirements of the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) and subsequent clarifications set forth by NTIA. The process begins by contacting all known providers in the state and providing information about the broadband mapping project. Information on broadband service areas is collected from each willing provider through voluntary participation. A nondisclosure agreement (NDA) is offered to all providers prior to the submission of data; the data protected through the NDA is limited to highly sensitive network infrastructure information, including middle-mile locations. Connected Nation strives to maintain a flexible mapping process in order to be able to collect data from providers in a variety of formats based on providers’ technical capabilities and resources.

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