The Eaton County Broadband Communication Council has completed its community technology assessment. The results of the assessment can be found by clicking the symbol for each of the sections below. The Solutions section includes recommended actions the community can implement to improve the local broadband and technology ecosystem.
This assessment was conducted during the global COVID-19 pandemic. This worldwide event likely impacted many of the metrics included in this assessment.
Broadband access refers to the infrastructure that enables a high-speed internet connection. There are two primary types of broadband connections: fixed and mobile.
Fixed broadband is delivered to a user via several technology platforms including cable, digital subscriber line (DSL) over phone lines, fiber optics, and fixed wireless. Fixed broadband is designed for stationary use at a fixed location such as a home, business, or institution. From one location, however, fixed broadband service is often broadcast as a Wi-Fi network to connect nearby devices.
The following map shows where broadband is available in the community.
Establish a small, empowered team of motivated individuals to focus on broadband-related needs and actions to benefit Eaton County.
A primary responsibility of this Workgroup is to manage and execute the following recommended actions to form the Eaton County Technology Action Plan, while also serving as the “go-to” resource for broadband-related needs, questions and information across the county.
- Identify and solicit candidates for the Eaton County Broadband Workgroup to provide leadership and direction, set goals and objectives, structure, and meeting agendas.
- Begin regularly scheduled meetings to develop workplans, foster individual broadband provider discussions, develop partnerships and recruit businesses and individuals to the Workgroup as appropriate.
- Create a centralized technology portal/website or other information source that promotes local technology resources for use by residents. Resources could include broadband provider identification and contact information, Eaton County Broadband Workgroup updates, public hotspot locations, calendars of events, online training resources, local computer resources, etc.
Effectively target unserved and underserved areas in Eaton County for improvements
- Review most recent broadband coverage maps from Connected Nation Michigan to assess estimated residential broadband coverage at various speeds across Eaton County (10 Mbps, 25 Mbps, 100 Mbps, and 1 Gbps).
- Use the new Eaton County Interactive Map to overlay broadband coverage with broadband survey data to narrow in on key areas and population centers that lack service or need improvements.
- Use Connected Nation Michigan’s statewide interactive map to view additional layers of broadband-related information and zoom to specific areas of Eaton County for more detail.
- Overlay population maps and data with broadband coverage maps to further identify which areas would provide the greatest return for new broadband investment.
- Engage with municipality leaders in the identified unserved and underserved areas to gather additional input and confirm the need for broadband expansion in their communities.
- Engage with library directors in these areas to understand the local, residential demand for library connectivity resources (due to lack of at-home service).
Initial geographic areas identified (with little or no current RDOF commitments):
Bellevue Township, Carmel Township, Roxand Township, Sunfield Township, Windsor Township, Kalamo Township, Vermontville Township.
Eaton County Interactive Map: https://connectednation.org/michigan/eaton/interactivemap
Establish and grow working relationships with RDOF providers for mutual benefit.
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) has currently committed $2.18 million to three fiber broadband providers for expanded broadband buildout in Eaton County over the next five to six years.
The following map indicates where that buildout will take place, which will bring at least 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps service to over 3,000 locations (homes, businesses, other buildings).
Determine why some areas of the community remain unserved, assess the feasibility of deploying various technologies in the targeted areas, and help generate a business case for deployment.
- Identify incumbent or nearby broadband providers in targeted areas and arrange meetings to understand current issues and plans for potential deployment in those areas.
- Assess the feasibility and use of various broadband technologies and implementation approaches as potential solutions for broadband deployment in these areas.
- Explore potential partnerships between affected municipalities, community organizations, economic development groups, and broadband providers to help eliminate barriers to broadband expansion in these targeted areas.
- Explore and evaluate funding sources that could support broadband efforts and solutions in these targeted areas (local, state, and federal).
Leverage existing community assets (including American Rescue Plan funds) in partnership with interested broadband providers to expand broadband network deployment.
The strength of these partnerships is that each party brings something important to the table that the other doesn’t have or can’t easily acquire. The community can offer infrastructure (publicly owned building rooftops, light poles, towers, and other vertical assets for mounting infrastructure) for the deployment of a network, as well as committed anchor tenants. Private-sector partners bring network-building and operations experience.
- Determine priorities: Competition, enhanced service, equity, and service to all; public control over infrastructure; risk avoidance; redundancy, etc.
- Consider different models of partnership:
Model 1: Private Investment, Public Facilitation — Make available public assets such as fiber and conduit, share geographic information systems data, streamline permitting and inspection processes, offer economic development incentives to attract private broadband investment.
Model 2: Private Execution, Public Funding — Identify revenue streams that can be directed to a private partner, issue RFP for private turnkey execution.
Model 3: Shared Investment and Risk — Evaluate using assets to attract private investment, evaluate funding new assets to attract private investment, evaluate building new fiber assets to businesses and/or homes for leasing to private ISPs.
- Understand key legal considerations for localities looking to build a broadband partnership: Review authority issues, understand the legal tools and instruments that could shape the partnership, negotiate the agreement.
Understand the applicability and timing of broadband funding programs (federal, state, and local) that could support community plans for broadband expansion:
- Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF)
- Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program (2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill)
- USDA ReConnect program — grants and loans
- Connecting Michigan Communities (CMIC) grants
- American Rescue Plan funds
Overcome the cost barrier to broadband adoption for low-income and vulnerable residents.
- Promote the availability and use of low-cost monthly broadband programs for eligible households offered by national broadband providers.
- Pursue relief for low-income households with the cost of broadband service via the new Affordable Connectivity Program (2022).
Affordable Connectivity Program - https://www.fcc.gov/acp