The following was published in Westport News on April 18, 2020 from an Associated Press article
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Stay-at-home orders adopted to slow down the coronavirus are highlighting the lack of broadband internet access faced by thousands of Michigan residents.
When Wesley Clark needed a new wheelchair, his doctor spoke on the phone to explain the set-up because he and his 79-year-old wife Janet don’t have internet in their house, between Mason and Eaton Rapids.
hey are among 381,000 Michigan households without the infrastructure for broadband internet at a level considered adequate by the Federal Communications Commission, the Lansing State Journal reported.
The increasing use of the internet for daily activities, ranging from remote schooling to tele-health appointments, is highlighting the challenge in many rural areas of the state.
The problem worsens in rural counties of Eaton and Clinton, where about 16% of households don’t have the infrastructure for broadband of at least 25/3 Mbps.
The FCC offers a subsidy for internet service providers to expand into rural communities. But the service is market-driven, which doesn’t compel providers to build broadband infrastructure in places where houses are far apart, said Eric Frederick, director of Connected Nation Michigan, a group that works with state regulators on broadband strategies.
Frederick said the pandemic has underscored the struggles of people who don’t have access to reliable internet.
“It’s not a want-to have,” Frederick said. “It’s a need-to have. It’s sad that it took a virus to make people see that.”
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