$81M From Feds Will Help Rural Michigan Get Up to Speed With Broadband—and Help Startups Start Up
It sounds barbaric, I know, but there are areas of Michigan where the only way to access the Internet is through a dial-up connection. These throwbacks to the 1990s are primarily located in rural areas and in the Upper and Northern Lower Peninsulas. And it’s not because they’re a bunch of Luddites up there. The infrastructure just does not exist.
That’s why $81 million in federal stimulus dollars has been set aside to put into place broadband and other computer network fibers and systems to bring the rest of Michigan up to speed.
Merit Network, an Ann Arbor, MI-based nonprofit computer network group, has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday to announce it has received a $70-million federal grant to build a 1,200-mile line offering high-speed Internet access to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with connections to the Lower Peninsula.
In addition, Michigan State University will get $6 million from the feds to create public computing centers across Michigan and, Bloomingdale Communications, also based in Michigan, will receive $5.6 million to build a fiber ring in Van Buren County that will connect community anchor institutions.
These projects not only create jobs in the short term as these networks are built, but offer a foundation, a basic infrastructure, for technology startups to start up in the first place and create more jobs. It is an integral part of Michigan’s ongoing conversion from a manufacturing-based economy to one that is driven by information and technology.