State approves $3.3M in funding for high-speed internet access

State approves $3.3M in funding for high-speed internet access

LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) – The state will invest an additional $3.3 million in funding to bring high-speed internet access to more residents, homes, and small businesses across the state.

Upper Peninsula Telephone is one of the recipients and plans to use the $2 million grant to bring fiber to the home network to locations in Menominee County. The funds, which are distributed under the Connecting Michigan Communities (CMIC) grant program, will go towards projects that will extend high-speed internet service to 781 unserved homes and businesses in Michigan.

“Access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet is critical for families, small businesses, and communities across Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “The funding in the Connecting Michigan Communities grant program helps us connect more Michiganders to high-speed internet that meets their needs and empowers them to succeed. I am also proud of the bipartisan broadband investments we secured in the Building Michigan Together Plan I signed earlier this year that will help us expand high-speed internet to even more families and small businesses so we can keep growing our economy.”

With high-speed internet becoming a necessity in our educational, professional, and personal lives, the CMIC grant program was established to expand broadband service to unserved areas in Michigan and supports the mission of the new Michigan High-Speed ​​Internet Office (MIHI). This is the fourth round of awards.

“With access to affordable, high-speed internet as our tool, we can connect Michiganders to opportunity,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “We can uplift communities, grow our economy, and boost access to education and healthcare. Governor Whitmer and I are committed to expanding access to high-speed internet in Michigan through Michigan’s High-Speed ​​Internet Office and recent Building Michigan Together plan investments, which have already connected tens of thousands of families and small businesses. Today, we are proud to announce further investments through the Connecting Michigan Communities grant program. These funds will make a difference for Manistee, St. Clair, and Menominee. We will continue working with anyone to connect Michigan families and small businesses, grow our economy, and create real change.”

The $3.3 million grant funding was awarded to three projects across the state and will impact 781 locations. The overall economic benefits from these infrastructure initiatives are estimated to reach up to $1.4 million annually.

APPLICANT PROJECT NAME GEOGRAPHIC SERVICE AREA ProjectTotal Grant Award Project Summary
AcenTek Iron Fish Manistee $497,338 $248,669 AcenTek is proposing a fiber to the home project that will connect 57 locations in Manistee County with speeds up to 1/0.2 Gbps
Duke Broadband Ira Expansion St. Clair $1,342,782 $858,227 Duke Broadband is proposing a fiber to the home project that will connect 367 locations in St. Clair County with speeds up to 1/.1 Gbps
Upper Peninsula Telephone Wallace-Carney Exchange Menominee $4,338,647 $2,169,323.50 Upper Peninsula Telephone is proposing a fiber to the home network that would connect 357 locations in Menominee County with speeds up to 1/1 Gbps

The first round of CMIC grant funds were announced in October 2020, with $11.9 million awarded to 10 projects to expand high-speed internet to 14,205 homes and businesses. A second round of funding distributed $1 million to expand the program to an additional four projects in April 2021. Another $15.3 million was awarded to 20 new projects in June 2021, which expanded access to 6,729 residents and businesses. Overall, the total grant funds awarded so far will impact more than 23,000 locations in Michigan and generate annual economic benefits that could exceed $42 million.

All projects awarded funding have committed to working toward the governor’s plan to close Michigan’s digital divide by expanding broadband, driving down costs, and boosting digital literacy. The projects will provide training materials to residents and businesses in their proposed service area, while working with local community and anchor institutions and foundations to host events to promote e-learning, job, and workforce training.

Access to broadband and high-speed internet is vital to people’s ability to work, learn and carry out business. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more imperative than ever and building and strengthening broadband infrastructure throughout Michigan will be a driver of economic recovery efforts statewide.

A full list of the CMIC grant awards can be accessed on the CMIC website.

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