USDA grants $12.7M to bridge high-speed internet gaps in these 4 northeast Michigan counties

What’s happening: The residents, business owners, and farmers of northeast Michigan got some good news earlier this week when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $12.7 million grant to bolster high-speed internet access in the largely rural area of the state. The Curran-based AllBand Communications Cooperative will use the funds to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network of high-speed internet across four counties in the region.

Who benefits: The new high-speed internet network will reach as-yet unconnected areas of Alcona, Iosco, Montmorency, and Oscoda counties, and specifically those places that lack access to internet service at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload. According to estimates released by the USDA, the network will connect 891 people, 55 businesses, and 60 farms to high-speed internet.

How it’s happening: The $12,713,451 grant from the USDA is part of a larger package of grants and loans  – nearly $700 million, in total – that connects thousands of rural residents, farmers, and businesses in 22 states to high-speed internet, a result of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. AllBand Communications has provided $4,237,817 toward completion of the northeast Michigan project.

Access and affordability: As part of the terms of the grant application, AllBand Communications will participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The program offers internet access at discounts of up to $30 per month for qualifying low-income households, and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands. More information about the program, and enrollment opportunities, is available online.

What they’re saying: “USDA is committed to increasing connectivity throughout rural Michigan,” says USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Brandon Fewins.  “Now is an excellent time for communities to contact us and see how we create new opportunities for growth and prosperity.”

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