Report Highlights Diverse Community-Led Solutions for Expanding Internet Access in Minnesota

Date: 29 Jul 2021 | posted in: MuniNetworks | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Minneapolis, Minn. (July 29, 2021) – A new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) showcases the diverse range of approaches Minnesota communities and local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have taken to expand affordable, high-quality Internet access. It includes a series of case studies that detail how communities are meeting the connectivity challenges of a broken marketplace shaped by large monopoly service providers. 

The profiled projects include municipal networks, public-private partnerships, cooperatives, and private investment. They run from the most rural areas of the state to Minneapolis. Some examples include: 

  • RS Fiber Cooperative, in south central Minnesota, which has brought fiber to local businesses and town residents. Rural residents benefit from RS Air, a fast wireless service available at affordable prices. 
  • Arrowhead Electric Cooperative’s fiber network in Cook County, which succeeded beyond original projections. It provides fast and affordable Internet access to one of the most far-flung parts of the state. 
  • St. Louis Park’s partnerships with both ISPs and the builders of large condominium complexes. One of the providers working with St. Louis Park is better known as the fastest ISP in Minneapolis, USI Fiber. 
  • Christensen Communications, a 100+ year-old telephone company in south central Minnesota. The company demonstrated a strong commitment to its communities when the pandemic hit, and is now going above and beyond to build fiber with federal subsidies.
  • The Fond du Lac Band, in northern Minnesota, which built a fiber-to-the-home network that is rare in Indian Country.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, co-author of the report and Senior Researcher with ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks initiative, said: 

“Minnesota communities and local ISPs have found creative and sustainable ways to build future-proof networks across the state, despite a broken marketplace and state barriers that favor slow-moving out-of-state monopoly providers clinging to outdated technology. Lawmakers must stand up for the cities and towns that sent them to the legislature, and remove the obstacles that prevent a more competitive market and local broadband solutions.”

The report illustrates that solving Minnesota’s connectivity challenges remains a fundamentally local issue. The majority of the fastest, most-affordable networks in Minnesota have come from locally-rooted companies and a commitment to local communities rather than distant shareholders. 

Read Minnesota Broadband: Land Of 10,000 Connectivity Solutions here.

This report was made possible by the Blandin Foundation. 




About Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken is a Senior Researcher with the Community Broadband Networks Initiative for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where he writes about locally owned networks and broadband policy around the country.


About the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, equitable communities. We are a national research and advocacy organization that partners with allies across the country to build an American economy driven by local priorities and accountable to people and the planet.


FOR MORE INFORMATION, or to schedule an interview with Ry, contact Jess Del Fiacco at