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Posted on: November 10, 2021

The Future of Broadband in Chippewa County

November 3, 2021 --- 

Chippewa County Commissioners are discussing the various funding sources and policies that are impacting the county. Numerous state and federal funding programs have resulted in plans that will provide new options to many in rural parts of the County.

LTD Broadband was recently awarded $1.3 billion in federal funds to provide a combination of fiber and fixed wireless broadband service to customers across 15 states including large portions of rural Chippewa County. This could mean new opportunities for many rural residents that are currently considered “unserved” by the Minnesota Office of Broadband Map. This investment must be rolled out in the County by 2027 according to the FCC rules. Chippewa County representatives will be actively monitoring the roll out of this broadband improvement.

Meanwhile, this federal grant renders these “unserved” areas of the County ineligible for other grant funds until the company builds their network. This means Chippewa County is limited on how it can apply for and use other state and federal funds dedicated to improving broadband service. 

This is just one example of the new options for broadband service that are becoming available to residents. New technology and increased availability of other services are providing alternatives for residents with more options on the way. Minnesota provides an interactive map of current broadband providers by address, and we encourage residents to explore their options regularly since things are changing at a rapid pace. A link to the MN Office of Broadband interactive map is found on the County’s website.

County staff are also engaging in important broadband development policy discussions on a national scale. Terry Ocaña, Chippewa County’s IT Director, is an active member on the National Association of Counties Broadband Task Force, participating and staying up to date on broadband issues and policies and bringing that knowledge and information back to Chippewa County to guide conversations about local options. This taskforce recently released a national report on the importance of broadband throughout the country. 

The County also wants to make sure all residents are aware of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. This federal program helps families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic with a $50 a month subsidy to your provider if the household is eligible and if your provider is participating in the program. Information on how to apply is at a link on the county’s website. 

A flyer was mailed to most rural Chippewa County residents.  View the flyer here.

Useful Links:

Minnesota Office of Broadband Development Map Showing Unserved areas

Minnesota Interactive Map of Broadband Providers by Address

NACo Broadband Task Force Report

FCC RDOF awards 

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program


 

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