Michigan towns trying to catch up on broadband expansion

Capital News Service
LANSING — Small towns across the state are eyeing ways to build their own utilities that boast high-speed internet reliability and better access for residents than traditional internet providers. They face one challenge: the cost. Fiber optic internet is faster than normal cable internet. It is less likely to crash during a power outage and isn’t affected by geography such as sand dunes or hills. Counties, cities and townships, especially where cable internet is inadequate, have begun to implement such systems, said Eric Frederick, executive director of Connect Michigan, a nonprofit organization that promotes broadband expansion across the state.

Push underway to expand fast Internet service in rural areas

Capital News Service
LANSING – A vast majority of state residents have access to high-speed Internet, a tool which the global marketplace increasingly relies on, according to the Telecommunication Association of Michigan. Even so, pockets of the state still struggle with slow broadband speeds. “The broadband industry is based on household density,” said Eric Frederick, executive director of Connect Michigan and Connected Nation’s vice president of community affairs. “Broadband providers need a certain number of customers in an area in order to make their build-out of infrastructure profitable.”

Connect Michigan is a nonprofit tech organization that works to expand broadband. At its annual conference this month, speakers pushed for innovative ways to raise the supply and demand for broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

Michigan farmers seek better Internet access

Capital News Service
LANSING – For farmers, tablets are becoming as common as tractors… and that means higher demand for broadband Internet access. Farmers are increasingly turning to technology to help track weather, map the spreading of fertilizers and seeds, and follow prices for input and services. But Internet access in rural areas lags behind urban areas. Around one-third of rural households and farms nationwide lack broadband Internet, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).