Mobile broadband boosts Minnesota access figures

For the first time, the people who keep track of how many Minnesotans have high-speed access to the Internet say some mobile service is good enough to count.

And when you include that, almost three-quarters of the state’s households have access to what the state says they should.

Connect Minnesota, the organization charged with tracking broadband access in the state, said today that 74.5 percent of households can get download speeds of 10 megabits and upload speeds of at least 6 megabits. Six months ago the figure was 69.2.

The biggest factor in the increase was that mobile Internet speeds from providers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have reached the point where they can be included in that data, said William Hoffman, state program director for the organization. About 3 percent of households don’t have fixed wire access but can get high speed Internet access via a mobile service, he said.

As established by the Legislature, Minnesota has a goal that every household in the state should have access to the Internet at those speeds by 2015. Handling basic email or web browsing doesn’t demand that level of speed but streaming video or playing interactive games typically does.

Mobile isn’t the ultimate solution for everyone, Hoffman said. Those services can have caps on the data used, so in some educational and professional situations fixed connections are preferable.

There are still three Minnesota counties that have no access at the speeds the state is shooting for –Aitkin in central Minnesota, Cook in the far northeast and Yellow Medicine in the southwest. Get the full data here.

  • From Dave Peters, Ground Level, MPR News:

    I just heard from Jack Geller, until recently head of the federal economic development center at the University of Minnesota at Crookston. He is a long time observer of and participant in Minnesota broadband discussions.


    “Hi Dave,

    I was reading your blog and noticed the Nov. 20 posting about Mobile Broadband filling in broadband availability “holes” in Minnesota; primarily in rural Minnesota.

    As you know I am a big proponent of this technology and have testified before
    the House and Senate in this regard. However with that said, while the 4G/LTE technology is up to speed, the economics are not (at least not yet). As long as wireless carriers continue to place data caps on their product, Minnesota should not
    include wireless in its metrics regarding broadband accessibility. If a wireless customer tried to use their wireless connection the same way they use their terrestrial connection, they would blow through their cap and it would costs hundreds of dollars per month. It’s just not feasible.

    So while the technology is there, the economics are not. Most importantly, if Minnesota starts to incorporate wireless into its policy discussions without addressing the data cap issue, then it won’t be long before we realize that there is no need for a Broadband Development Office; after all, the whole state theoretically has availability! Let’s just raise the flag of victory and go home; right?”

    Jack M. Geller, Ph.D.
    Dean, College of Social Sciences
    Mathematics and Education
    Professor of Sociology
    The University of Tampa