The state issued its first major telecommunications report in 1985 and the Center for Rural Policy & Development has conducted surveys on internet connectivity and broadband service adoption since 2001. The Minnesota Ultra High Speed Broadband Task Force was established in 2008 and asked to report by November 2009.
The report recommended a statewide high speed internet service no later than 2015, with a download speed of 10-20 mbps and upload at 5-10 mbps. At the time of the report, only one county met the lower download speed and none achieved the upload speed. The report also found that 94% of Minnesotans had access to broadband internet services that conformed to the FCC definition, leaving 100,000 households and 300,000 residents without. Results varied across the state, with only 37% of Cook County residents in northeast Minnesota having broadband access from an ISP and eleven Greater Minnesota counties falling below download speeds of 1.5 mbps. The Speed Matters survey of 2009 ranked the state 22nd with an average 5.4 mbps download speed.
The Task Force proposed the creation of a Broadband Advisory Council of Minnesota to implement the report's recommendations. These included setting financial policies and offering tax incentives to internet providers to develop the infrastructure. A range of interactive maps is available, identifying unserved households, speed and broadband availability by platform; these cover DSL, fiber optic cable and wireless internet access deployments.
The maps are to be used to determine where funding is needed. The University of Minnesota was granted $2.9 million of federal funding in December 2009 to improve awareness and access in disadvantaged areas. Some cities have built their own networks in partnership with an internet provider, including Minneapolis, Buffalo and Monticello. Nevertheless, much remains to be done, with wifi hotspots clustered around the Minneapolis-St Paul area but much wider spread in the rest of the state.
The North Star State has a continental climate that features hot summers and cold winters. Originally a raw materials producer, the economy is now diversified and includes forestry, technology, biomedical, food processing and heavy industry. Minnesota is the largest producer in the US of sugar beets, sweet corn and green peas for processing. Minneapolis is the largest city followed by St Paul, the state capital, Rochester and Duluth. Around 60% of the state's population is in the Minneapolis-St Paul metropolitan area.
Cities in Minnesota likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Bloomington, Plymouth, Brooklyn Park, Eagan, Coon Rapids, Saint Cloud, Burnsville, Eden Prairie and Maple Grove. Locations in MN with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.