The National Telecommunications and Information Administration put out a new broadband map for the country this week and noted again what it called the significant gap between urban and rural availability. At download speeds of 10 megabits (think high quality video conferencing for telecommuters, complex gaming, telemedicine for remote diagnostics and care), urban America is 99.6 covered.
Just under 84 percent of rural America has those speeds available.
You can see where the gaps are in Minnesota by playing with the NTIA’s interactive map.
Here’s a zoomed-in view of the state with the coverage areas for download speeds of three megabits (web browsing, email, music streaming but not so good for video). If you take away the north woods, the state looks OK (especially in comparison to many other rural states).
But the bare spots start to show up when you move the map’s slider to give you 10-megabit coverage.
And at 25 megabits, you see the impact of several of the small telecommunications companies, some of them cooperatives, that have been intensely laying fiber in western and northwestern Minnesota for a number of years.
These maps are from the end of 2012. I keep waiting for the state’s northeastern corner to turn blue as the federally supported fiber project kicks into gear.