Broadband development in Manistee County is about 2/3 complete

MANISTEE COUNTY — The digital divide describes the gap between those who are ready for high-speed Internet and those who are not. That divide is narrowing in Manistee County, according to Internet provider Spectrum, a division of Charter Communications.

Spectrum is in the process of expanding its services to rural areas of the state through a combination of public-private partnerships and domestic investment.

About $10 million is being invested to accelerate underserved homes and businesses in Manistee County.

The funding is made possible by the Rural Digital Opportunities Fund, an initiative of the Federal Communications Commission, and an additional $8.2 million investment by Charter Spectrum.

The funds are being used to add Internet service to areas of Brown, Norman and Springdale townships and to improve access in Arcadia, Bear Lake, Manistee, Onekama, Pleasanton and Stronach.

The Rural Digital Opportunities Fund awarded nearly $363 million in 2021 to 13 companies, including Charter. It is estimated to affect 249,263 addresses in Michigan, 1,356 of which are located in Manistee County.

Other Rural Digital Opportunity Fund buyers active in northwest Michigan are Point Broadband Fiber Holding, Mercury Wireless and Cherry Capital Connection.

“Through Spectrum (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund), 1,356 locations have been awarded in Manistee, and we expect to complete about two-thirds by the end of 2022,” Leigh A. Byrd, public affairs manager for Charter Communications, said in an email. News lawyer.

That includes some additional homes and small businesses discovered between Spectrum’s initial auction with the FCC and the design and construction of the network, Byrd said.

The Rural Digital Opportunities Fund will provide $20.4 billion in funding over 10 years to support the rollout of broadband networks in rural communities across the country. Eligible areas include those without current access to adequate broadband service, defined by the FCC as 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

Funding for the program “comes from premium universal service funds and is independent of legislation,” according to the Rural Digital Opportunities Foundation’s website,

As part of the agreement, operators must provide at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream service, as well as voice over Internet Protocol compatibility. ISPs like Spectrum are also required to file annual reports and milestone certifications with the FCC.

“When we complete these rural extensions, we’re delivering the same gigabit capacity as well as starting speeds of 300 Mbps, with no data caps, modem fees or contracts, and at the same price as other markets,” Byrd said.

Source link