Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan has released a new statewide broadband plan. The initiative is designed to provide broadband service to every corner of the state.
Michigan currently ranks 30th in the nation for broadband availability and more than 350,000 households, in mostly rural areas, do not have access to vital high-speed internet service. Another two million households only have access to a single, terrestrial internet service provider. There is approximately $2.5 billion in potential economic opportunities available for these regions if this gap is closed.
“As technology continues to rapidly change and evolve, having access to fast, reliable internet is now a necessity for everyday life,” Snyder said. “There are many regions of Michigan where internet is inaccessible or ineffective, and this plan works to make broadband internet available to Michigan residents in every corner of the state.”
Gov. Snyder created the Michigan Consortium of Advanced Networks (MCAN) through Executive Order 2018-2 to solidify a vision for a connected state along with a roadmap to guide the state’s goal of ubiquitous broadband access. The consortium includes a number of city managers and mayors from throughout Michigan. Since its creation, MCAN has gathered input from a diverse group of public and private entities from around the state and held six listening tours to fully understand the needs of Michiganders before creating the comprehensive plan.
The broadband roadmap identifies three main areas for improvement: 1) Access to Unserved Areas; 2) Increase Broadband Adoption; and 3) Advance Michigan’s Broadband Ecosystem. Recommendations include a call for greater investment in broadband to improve community and economic development, establishing a single point of contact for within state government, promoting and building awareness for low-cost broadband subscription programs, improving the workforce pool for the telecommunications industry, promoting digital literacy, and creating a permanent broadband commission to advise future governors and the legislature.
The broadband plan is part of a broader statewide infrastructure plan that will address Michigan’s needs for the next 30-50 years in the areas of transportation, water, sewer, stormwater, wastewater treatment and drainage, energy, and communications.
Several states are currently working through broadband expansion plans with a strong focus on rural broadband. As CivSource previously reported, Microsoft has also been teaming up with local broadband providers to support technologies like TV White Space Broadband, which has been identified as a potential solution for far-flung populations. TV White Space Broadband works by using empty television channels to transmit voice and data services.