Broadband adoption rates in rural Michigan households have caught up to the national average, rising from 50% in 2010, up to 71% in 2013. Connect Michigan, local and state governments, economic development groups, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are all cooperating to get more of these unserved or underserved areas on the broadband map. Telecommunications cooperative Allband exemplifies this cooperative spirit in rural northeast Michigan with its donation of fiber Internet capabilities to local community institutions. Two churches in Lachine, MI and one in Mikado, MI are now receiving fiber Internet through Allband, providing the first high-speed connection in the area and, for many, the first Internet access at all.
“These institutions were picked because they are major community anchors,” said Loren Sampson, Marketing Communications Coordinator for Allband. Lachine, part of Long Rapids Township, which has a population of approximately 1,000 people, has no library and few public resources. “One unique thing about the churches is they get a wide demographic of people.” The churches are frequented by young children and their families, senior citizens, and everyone in between. With three churches in the area connected, including Beaver Lake Community Church, Calvary Baptist Church, and Spratt United Methodist Church, the area’s primary faith base can take advantage of the resources.
“We’re hoping to provide opportunity for our residents to grow and learn, and see all the resources that the Internet can give you access to,” said Sampson. “We want to improve the quality of life of our residents and let our community members have access to the same resources as an urban area does.”
One of the many important drivers behind increased Internet access in rural areas is access to modern educational resources. As more schools transition to using tablets and laptops, more homework assignments, reading assignments, and lectures are provided and completed online. Without Internet access at home or access in a nearby public place, students miss out on valuable opportunities and the chance to cultivate valuable computer skills—skills they will be expected to know later when they enter the workforce.
“Allband is focusing on a vision for the future of improving the community and creating opportunities, which is what leads to our donation to the churches,” said Sampson. “Internet is more than communications. It’s a gateway to opportunity and Allband is looking to collaborate with more institutions to create more opportunity for growth and development in the future.”
To learn more about broadband development in both rural and urban areas, keep up with connectmi.org/blog.
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