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Koochiching County

Table of goal data by year
Year 25/3 Mbps 100/20 Mbps
2020 #59 of 87
81.57%
#60 of 87
68.6%
2019 #53 of 87
81.22%
#47 of 87
73.41%
2018 #58 of 87
73.5%
#28 of 87
73.44%
2017 #60 of 87
68.6%
#27 of 87
68.55%
Coverage map graphic

Rank: 59 (out of 87) for access to 100/20 megabits per second (Mbps)

Koochiching County has been working on getting better broadband for a while. They are well organized and engaged through Koochiching Technology Initiative (KTI); they are a Blandin Broadband Community. They have done innovative work in providing access in the homeless shelters. They have been active in getting residents to take the statewide speed test. Last year, Paul Bunyan Telephone was awarded a Border to Border grant that will help deploy Fiber to the Home to about half of the currently unserved households. But that project competition date is a year from now (2021).

COVID has exacerbated the difference between those with and without broadband and, of equal importance to the broadband leaders in Koochiching, the folks who can afford broadband. They have come up with innovative ways to reach seniors, students and folks experiencing homelessness.

What we learned in the past:

Koochiching has been working with the Blandin foundation on the Iron Range Broadband Communities (IRBC) initiative with the Koochiching Tech Initiative leading the way. Koochiching has benefited from one MN state grant:

  • 2015 – Midcontinent Little Fork Middle Mile – Grant award: $277,448

Update from 2020:

  • Paul Bunyan Communications – North Central Minnesota Fiber Project– GRANT $2,562,916
    This last mile project will upgrade approximately 914 unserved and 439 underserved locations in parts of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and rural portions of Cass, Itasca, Koochiching, and St. Louis counties. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Minnesota Iron Range Resource & Rehabilitation Board, Koochiching County, and Morcom Township, Paul Bunyan Communications will improve broadband service levels up to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. A fiber-to-the premise project, the proposed project areas are a response to consumer demand and will provide relief in economically distressed communities that need new alternatives to diversify and strengthen.
  • Total eligible cost is $6,268,400
  • Local match is $3,705,484

Is broadband a help or hindrance in dealing with COVID?

Koochiching County met with Blandin on Broadband to talk about how their broadband situation helped or hindered the ability to deal with COVID restrictions.

We’ve learned that if you are in International Falls, you are served but get just three miles away and folks report they have trouble streaming Netflix. Fortunately, most people live in town but for those who don’t there are some barriers. Affordability is another barrier exacerbated by COVID. They created a COVID Response team; they came up with a mobile emergency network – a redundant network that could be used in a healthcare facility if there was an unexpected outage.

There are some difficulties now with getting devices and technology tools, but that is not limited to Koochiching. There are also challenges with training, especially with seniors.

Find more articles on broadband in Koochiching County.

Household Density

1.9

Number of Providers

6

As of 2019 · Source: MN DEED

Households with Device Access

Computer 82.5% 90.3%
statewide
Desktop or Laptop 70.3% 81.1%
statewide
Smartphone 60.5% 76.5%
statewide
Tablet 50.3% 59.3%
statewide
Other 3.1% 3.5%
statewide

Has Worked with Blandin Foundation

Yes

Has Received MN Grant(s)

Yes

Government Districts

U.S. Congress: CD 8

MN Senate: 03

MN House: 03A

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