Rural residents that have struggled to find ways to access the internet from their homes may be in luck as Century Link is expanding services to include an additional 1,400 homes in the Braham area, and 3,000 homes in the Mora area.

While this will boost internet access and speeds in under-served areas, Doyle Jelsing of the Kanabec Broadband Initiative said it still isn’t ideal.

“This is a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go,” he said. Jelsing explained that even though Century Link advertises speeds of at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload, actual speeds tend to vary. For Jelsing, he had hoped upload speeds would be considered equally as important as download speeds. While download speeds help consumers who are interested in streaming video, upload speeds are essential for supporting local businesses that need to send data —not just receive it.

While 10 Mbps bandwidth will be a huge improvement for those with no wired internet options, it’s still below the FCC’s definition of broadband which is 25Mbps download / 3Mbps upload.

“We welcome the improvement,” Jelsing said. “However, time will work against us as the need for broadband increases.”

Century Link’s expansion into rural Minnesota communities was in part due to funding from the Federal Communications Commission Connect America Fund.

Installation of fiber-optic cable along roadsides began last fall drawing the attention of locals with large spools.

Since the announcement of the expansion, calls for customers to have the service installed at their homes have spiked. Local installers out of Ashworth Appliance and Electronics in Mora said waiting times are over a month for installation.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience while we get out to do all these orders,” said Century Link representative Molly Clemen. “Our local team has been very busy with, one, deploying the infrastructure and two, installation. Our techs have been very busy.”

For more information on what broadband services may be available to you, visit www.centurylink.com.

Kirsten Faurie is the managing editor of the Braham Journal.

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