It’s good news for those Michiganders unserved and underserved by the state’s high-speed internet infrastructure as Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office recently announced that a federal grant will fund the installation of 535 miles of fiber optic lines in the state’s, thus far, yet-to-be-reached areas. This includes both undersea and overland routes, delivering high-speed broadband internet access to some of the state’s most rural communities.
New broadband infrastructure will include an undersea fiber optic route that runs from Charlevoix, under Lake Michigan and connecting to Beaver Island, before going back under Lake Michigan and connecting to Gulliver in the UP. A second undersea route will connect from Benton Harbor to Chicago. Overland fiber optic routes include Charlevoix to Grayling, Port Huron to Flint, and Benton Harbor to Grand Rapids, providing that “middle mile” infrastructure to those points in between.
Who’s behind it:
Marquette’s Peninsula Fiber Network (PFN)
has been awarded a $61 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and will install the planned 535 miles of fiber optic line throughout the state. The grant comes as part of the NTIA’s Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program
, which itself is funded by the federal government’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021.
Why it’s important:
"As we become increasingly reliant on technology for education, work and daily life, equitable broadband access is more important than ever,” says Zachary Kolodin, Michigan’s Chief Infrastructure Officer and Director of the Michigan Infrastructure Office. “With this $61 million grant, Michigan has now received more than $200 million in federal investment for high-speed internet access, helping to close the digital divide and ensure that all residents have equal opportunities for success in the digital age.”
Connecting Michigan’s unserved and underserved households to high-speed internet has been a priority for Gov. Whitmer’s office, and the governor also recently announced a new statewide initiative to increase awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). According to a release from the state, “The ACP provides eligible households with a monthly discount of up to $30 per month (up to $75 per month for households on tribal) and a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. Nearly 1.7 million Michigan households are eligible for the ACP, yet only 644,000 have enrolled.”
A Monday, June 26, webinar is schedule at 1 p.m. for organizations interested in getting involved with the initiative, and registration is available online
. Households interested in ACP enrollment can learn more online at GetACP.org/Michigan
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