Fiber ring around Van Buren County in the works

The Paw Paw-based Bloomingdale Communications Inc. has been awarded $5.6 million of federal stimulus funds to construct a fiber ring in Van Buren County.

The high-speed fiber network will connect 40 community institutions, including the Van Buren Intermediate School District, the City of South Haven and Berrien County Regional Education Services. The work is called the middle mile project and involves creating the backbone of the network.

The goal is to have the service to the schools up by the end of summer 2011 so it is in place for the 2011-2012 school year.

The broadband service will go out to as many as 32,400 people and 1,000 regional businesses.

The grant is part of $81 million in federal grants made available to expand broadband internet access in a large, underserved portion of the state. The Van Buren county ring will connect to the statewide fiber network.

Broadband service is expected to bring down the cost of private investment, attract Internet service providers to new areas, improve digital literacy among students and workers, and help create new opportunities in employment, education, and entrepreneurship by wiring homes and businesses.

Earlier this year Bloomingdale Communications began an $8.2 million expansion of voice, data and video service after receiving grant funds through Rural Utilities Services. Service will extend to most of Paw Paw Township and parts of Almena, Antwerp and Waverly townships and into Mattawan.

To date, Michigan projects have been awarded nearly $158 million in Recovery Act funds to expand access to high speed internet service across the state.

Writer: Kathy Jennings
Source:  Shari Wykrent, Bloomindale Communications Inc.
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