High-Speed Internet Coming to 10,000 Homes in Allegan County with $65M Project
In a significant development for Allegan County in Michigan, plans have been unveiled to connect over 10,000 homes currently lacking access to high-speed internet over the next two years. The county recently announced that 123NET, an internet service provider based in Southfield, has been recommended for a state grant of $30 million. Together with contributions from the company and the county, this funding will enable a $65 million broadband project to proceed.
The county administrator, Rob Sarro, expressed confidence that the grant award will be finalized by August. Upon approval, construction will commence on laying 1,100 miles of high-capacity fiber, which will form the backbone of the broadband infrastructure. This initiative is the result of a public-private partnership established between the Allegan County Board of Commissioners and 123NET earlier this year. The aim is to bridge the connectivity gap for over 10,000 households in the county that currently have limited or no access to high-speed internet.
Over the course of the next two years, construction will be diligently carried out to connect the identified homes. The project’s total cost is being split evenly between Allegan County and 123NET, with each party contributing $17.5 million. The county’s portion of the funding is derived from federal stimulus dollars, which underscores the importance placed on expanding broadband infrastructure in underserved areas.
Sarro highlighted the palpable excitement surrounding the project, particularly among those eagerly anticipating high-speed internet access. He emphasized that the Board of Commissioners’ vision has always been to provide broadband to approximately 10,000 addresses in Allegan County that currently lack this essential service. Bringing this vision to fruition has been a collaborative effort, and securing the funding is a significant milestone in realizing this goal.
Once completed, the fiber network deployed by 123NET will offer impressive speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, enabling seamless connectivity for residents. County officials have also stated that other internet service providers will have the opportunity to utilize the fiber infrastructure, likely through lease agreements with 123NET, thereby expanding the range of service options available to residents.
While this broadband project is expected to connect nearly all residents without high-speed internet, the county’s broadband project manager, Jill Dunham, advises residents to verify the accuracy of their internet service status listed on the county’s website. It is crucial for individuals to notify the county if any discrepancies are found. To facilitate this process, individuals can visit allegancounty.org/broadband to check their addresses and confirm whether they are correctly identified as having or lacking high-speed internet access.
Furthermore, the county plans to encourage internet providers to apply for additional grants to ensure that all residents are included in the connectivity expansion. This proactive approach aims to address any potential oversights and guarantee that every household within Allegan County can enjoy the benefits of reliable and high-speed internet.
The struggle to access high-speed internet has long plagued rural areas due to the financial challenges faced by internet service providers in establishing costly infrastructure in sparsely populated regions. This issue became even more apparent during the pandemic when numerous individuals were compelled to learn and work remotely from their homes.
In addition to the homes that will benefit from the $65 million broadband project, another 7,000 households, predominantly located in the southern part of the county, are expected to be connected to high-speed internet. Construction for this endeavor is projected to commence next year, with three internet providers already awarded federal funds to carry out the work. These combined efforts signify a remarkable step forward in closing the digital divide within Allegan County and facilitating equal opportunities for all residents.