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.