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“I get about a movie a month,” said Brown, who lives outside Nashwauk. “We actually have arguments — is that 5-minute YouTube video worth it?”
In 2011, Arrowhead Electric Cooperative began building a high-speed, fiber-to-the-home network in Cook County with the help of more than $16 million in federal grants and low-interest loans.
It’s one of 23 counties where less than a fifth of households have broadband with download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second, the task force report shows.
Without high-speed Internet, “the neglected, small-population community was really becoming isolated,” said Molly Wickwire, a subscriber accounts representative.
The cheapest monthly subscription for download speeds of 20 megabits per second will cost about $47.
So far, about 75 percent of 5,200 homes and businesses have asked Arrowhead to build the line to their property at no cost to them.
Building that kind of network — 431 miles of aerial and buried mainline fiber so far — without federal and local funding “just wouldn’t have been feasible,” Wickwire said.
McKeever, 45, recently took a laptop to Arrowhead’s headquarters to test the speeds she could soon get.
A document that at her home downloads in 30 minutes took just seconds.
She believes that with greater connectivity, people with cabins will extend their stays in the region — or even move there full-time.
“This is going to open up a huge opportunity for the county,” she said.
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168