Lansing, MI (February 6, 2019) – Michigan lawmakers got an update on the issue of broadband access in the state today during the House Communications and Technology Committee meeting. Connect Michigan’s Executive Director, Eric Frederick (pictured right), was among those who testified.
“We’re a neutral advocate for all technology,” he told the committee members. “Among other things, we do network mapping and analysis as well as research to understand the barriers to expanding broadband. That means going beyond just looking at expanding infrastructure. We also look at reasons why people may not be adopting and using the internet – such as lack of training or the cost of connectivity – and we’re identifying solutions to removing those barriers.”
Connect Michigan is a local subsidiary of Connected Nation, a national nonprofit working to find innovative solutions to expanding access, adoption, and use of broadband and its related technologies to all people. Frederick gave committee members an overview of internet connectivity in the state and what’s being done to improve it.
“Michigan ranks 34th in the country for broadband adoption, and this has a serious economic impact on our state. If we connected everyone in Michigan who does not currently have access, it would have a $2.5 billion annual economic impact,” he said. “But it’s exciting to see that Michigan has a plan and a grant program in place to help us connect more families and businesses.”
In addition, Frederick pointed out that the USDA has recently launched the ReConnect Program to fund rural broadband expansion. The USDA also released a ReConnect Toolkit today to help communities interested in taking advantage of the program. Because Michigan has a plan in place, projects are automatically weighted stronger when submitting applications for grants and loans.
Frederick provided a presentation in support of his testimony. It includes an overview of what can be done to reach unserved areas, why broadband matters, and details on the state grant program. You can download this presentation by heading to this page.
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