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How many Minnesotans don’t have internet access?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg calls connectivity a basic human right. Yet the number of Minnesotans who don’t have it may surprise you. 

MinnPost photo illustration by Corey Anderson

Welcome to Random Acts of Data, a new, occasional series by MinnPost reporter Andy Mannix and news editor Tom Nehil. The goal: to answer questions about all things Minnesota using the vast amount of data at our disposal. If you have a question you’re wondering about, send an email to with the subject line, “Random Acts of Data.”

If you’re reading this, the internet is probably an essential part of your daily life.

Over the past 20 years, usage among American adults shot from 14 percent to 87 percent. We now have more mobile devices on this planet than people, and it’s changed just about everything: the way we keep in touch with friends, how we read the news and books, our ability to interact with celebrities, athletes or politicians. A couple years ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg went as far as calling connectivity a “basic human right.”

Yet in Minnesota alone, hundreds of thousands of households don’t have it.

According to 2014 census estimates, out of 2.1 million households in the state, about 358,000 have no access to the internet at home.

Here’s how that figures break down:

Minnesota internet access, 2014
*Cases where household has access to Internet through free service provided by city, town or school
Source: 2014 ACS 1-year estimates

If these numbers surprise you, consider this: Minnesota’s rate of residents without internet access at home is actually lower than most other states.

Proportion of households with no access to the internet
Source: 2014 ACS 1-year estimates
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In Minnesota, internet availability diminishes in rural areas. The state defines its minimum speed goal for broadband as 10 megabits per second of download service and 5 megabits per second of upload. Statewide, including mobile, this level of access is available for about 91.5 percent of households, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. In Hennepin County, 100 percent of households have this availability or better. In rural counties (again, mobile included), only about 80 percent of households have this level of access available. For more on the rural vs. urban Internet access, check out Gregg Aamot’s July story, "The Need for Speed."