Need broadband in Michigan? Rural life can mean you’re out of luck

Households, students and small business in much of rural Michigan struggle with slow Internet

Losing the race

Overall, 37 percent of residents in rural areas of Michigan have no access to high speed broadband. In some counties, 100 percent of rural residents have no access. Lack of access extends to some urban counties as well. Click on the map to see each county’s access numbers.

Source: Federal Communications Commission

On a color-coded map where blue equals slow Internet, vast swaths of rural Michigan are a virtual ocean of that hue.

Oh, it’s an annoyance for sure.

But the implications cut much deeper than aggravation over photos that take minutes to load or a Netflix movie that won’t stream. Experts say the lack of high-speed broadband can be a drag on rural business. It can even depress real estate prices. Moreover, rural school officials say, students without fast Internet access are left chasing students who do.

In a way, it’s the 21st-Century version of bringing electricity to rural America in the 1930s.

“I think it’s absolutely critical for all Michigan residents to have equal access to the Internet,” said Eric Frederick of Connect Michigan, a nonprofit that partners with Michigan’s Public Service Commission to advocate for broadband expansion.

“It’s like stopping at a stop light. All the cars up front are going to get going a lot faster than the cars at the back. Those without fast Internet are going to be left further and further behind.”

MORE COVERAGE: Wiring rural Michigan with broadband, one home at a time 

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission set the minimum acceptable threshold for fixed broadband at download speeds of 25 megabits per second and 3 megabits per second for uploads. Fixed broadband is Internet provided through cable or a fixed wireless signal as opposed to a satellite or cellular link.

By that standard, according to the FCC, 1.2 million people, or 12 percent of the population, in Michigan are out of luck. And of those, more than 900,000 live in rural areas - where 37 percent lack access to the FCC broadband standard. In some rural counties, 90 percent or more lack access to fixed broadband. That compares to just 3 percent without access to broadband in urban areas.

Washtenaw County resident Bart Hammer says high-speed broadband is “really a necessity.” (Courtesy photo)

As a nation, 10 percent of Americans (34 million people) lack access to high-speed broadband. The rate is four times higher for rural Americans, with 23 million people (39 percent) lacking access.

And it isn’t always where you would expect.

About 20 miles northwest of Ann Arbor, Lyndon Township residents Bart and Maribeth Hammer are well versed in the frustrations of slow Internet. With no access to cable, they’ve tried two different satellite plans and three cellular plans. It’s still slow.

Without broadband, households are by and large left with access through a cellular plan, satellite dish or telephone DSL line. But those options are often much slower. Satellite connections can be interrupted by weather. Cell links can be spotty depending on proximity to a tower. While satellite and cell plans subject some users to expensive data surcharges.

When the Hammers’ three children were in high school, they had to drive about eight  miles to the Chelsea District Library, which has high speed Internet, to get homework done.

Bart, a pilot with Delta Air Lines, is required every few months to view safety and security videos mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“I don’t even both trying to watch it at home,” he said. That means another trip to the library.

Delta sends him links from its web site for flight and trip assignments. They won’t load – so he has to call and wait for a person to come to the phone with his flight information.

Hammer finds it ironic that a community near a high-tech hub like the University of Michigan still dwells in the relative Dark Ages of the Internet.

“As a pilot, I can go just about anywhere in the world and have faster Internet than we have here,” he said.

But by the end of next year, that should change, for the Hammers, at least.

In what remains a rarity in Michigan governance, fed-up Lyndon Township residents in August took matters into their own hands. By nearly a two-to-one margin, voters approved a 20-year millage of 2.91 mills to bring fiber optic cable to township homes. It will cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 just under $300 a year. In exchange, residents can expect download speeds of 100 mbps when the network is completed, with the township expected to partner with one or more private carriers to furnish the service.

The voter turnout of 43 percent – a township record for a non-general election – speaks volumes about how residents value this commodity. Reliable and fast Internet, they emphatically said, is more than a matter of convenience in today’s digital landscape.

“It’s really a necessity,” Hammer said.

But that still leaves residents around much of the state pretty much on their own – a legacy of a digital access network built on a for-profit model. That means areas with dense populations get fast access, while residents in rural areas scrounge for anything they can get.

Dave Waymire, spokesman for the Michigan Cable Telecommunications Association, said it’s not as if cable firms are somehow conspiring against rural folks. Waymire said it’s hardly profitable to string cable at $40,000 a mile along roads where houses are a half mile or more apart (Disclosure: Waymire’s consulting firm also does business with The Center for Michigan).

“If you are spending $35,000 to $45,000 per mile and you have only three people on that mile, your return on investment is pretty low,” Waymire said. “That investment is not going to work.”

Currently, Michigan allocates no direct funding for broadband expansion.

But perhaps the state could look to initiatives in a state like New York, which established a $500 million broadband fund in 2015 with the goal of bringing high speed Internet to all households by 2018. It is the most ambitious program in the country, in a state where FCC data report 98 percent of the population already have access to high speed broadband.

In sparsely populated terrain like Lake County 70 miles north of Grand Rapids and Luce County in the Upper Peninsula, 100 percent of rural residents have no access to fixed broadband, according to the FCC. In Montmorency County in the northeast Lower Peninsula, 90 percent of rural residents have no access.

School officials in these communities say this gap puts their students at an unfair disadvantage compared with districts with widespread broadband connections.

“It presents a lot of challenges for us,” said Cliff Fossitt, principal of the U.P.’s Newberry High School in Luce County, with fewer than 7,000 residents sprinkled across the county’s 900 square miles along Lake Superior.

“We have people in our district who live in places where the Internet is not even an option. They just can’t get it.”

Fossitt said the district would like to convert to digital versions of its paper textbooks. But it can’t – too many students wouldn’t be able to access digital texts at home.

“It limits our ability as a school district. We have less flexibility as to what type of work we send home. If it requires logging into a Web set, they just don’t have that option.”

Three miles from school, Brandy Dunbar and her husband, Jeff, struggle to make do with home cellular Internet service that is marginal at best for their five school age children.  

“If the kids don’t understand their homework assignments, the teachers will give them a lot of YouTube videos to watch. If it’s a smaller clip, we might be able to watch it. If it’s a larger one, it takes a very long time to download. We have to go to the library to do that.

“I feel like we’re at a huge disadvantage compared to the kids who go to a big city school and have access to all the high-speed projects.”

Dunbar said she lives just a half mile from the Internet cable that runs a short distance out of Newberry.

“We begged them to put cable in here,” Dunbar said of the cable company, “but they won’t do it for just the six families who live here.”

It’s not just an issue for students with slow Internet at home. Some Michigan schools have catching up to do as well, even as small businesses in rural Michigan try to make do with shaky Internet links.

State schools rank 40th in the nation in meeting high-speed Internet standards set by the FCC, according to a report by EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

In 2013, the FCC said schools should have classroom download speeds of at least 100 kilobytes per second per student by 2015. About 90 percent of Michigan schools now meet that standard, with help from nearly $50 million in federal funds in 2017. While that’s an improvement, Michigan lags 16 states in which 99 percent or 100 percent of students are in schools that meet the FCC standard.

And that leaves nearly 160,000 Michigan students in 54 districts with Internet speeds below the FCC in-school standard. That includes Tahquamenon Area Schools – home to Newberry High School – which school officials say has Internet speeds of 70 kbps per student.

“We are aware of this issue. We know there are disparities out there,” said Michelle Ribant, director of 21st Century Learning for Michigan’s Department of Education.

Still, Ribant said schools are closing the Internet gap through initiatives like furnishing buses with WiFi or offering after-school programs in places where students might not have fast Internet at home but can access the school’s high-speed network. Some districts or libraries loan out WiFi hotspot devices to students, which, paired with school laptop computers, give students online access outside school hours. Schools can restrict access to websites needed for homework.

“There has been a lot of progress,” Ribant said.

But she added that MDE can’t do much more than advocate ‒ there are no state funds to help schools upgrade Internet capacity.

Just outside Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Benzie County, Timothy Young runs a small specialized food company called Food for Thought.

As he goes through his business day, he has a choice – he can connect to the Internet through a snail-like DSL line or link to his laptop through his cell phone. That’s faster, but expensive.

“How do you monetize how much it costs – the time you sit there for a page to pop up, an email to load? It’s time lags. It’s stuff getting dropped. It may seem like a few seconds, but you add it up over a day, a week, a year, and it’s time.”

Young said he does aid work in Africa – and says he often gets better Internet there than he does at home.

“You can sit in a grass hut in a remote village in Ethiopia and get a faster Internet connection than I do here in my home,” Young said.

Fredericks of Connect Michigan said lack of broadband can even make it hard to sell a home.

Fredericks said he learned of a Montcalm County home north of Grand Rapids that had been on the market for months, in part because it had a slow Internet hookup. As soon as it was hooked up to cable, it sold.

“It sold for 15 percent above asking price,” he said.

With that said, Fredericks noted that federal funds are helping close the Internet gap to homes and businesses.

The FCC’s Connect America fund – launched in 2014 – offers subsidies totaling $363 million to three Michigan broadband providers, AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier, that is expected to bring broadband to 180,000 households and businesses over six years.

But that fund only requires that carriers offer download speeds of 10 mbps – a standard that Fredericks said could seem out-of-date by 2020.

“I think it was a little short-sighted to set the bar at 10 mbps,” he said.

The previous big government investment in Michigan’s Internet infrastructure was 2010, when federal stimulus dollars funneled $100 million to the state to install 3,800 miles of primary fiber optic cable throughout the state.

That is considered a “middle mile” network, comparable to a major highway system. That still leaves it up to cable firms when and where they will lay “last mile” cable to individual homes or businesses.

Meanwhile, a grassroots organization called the Michigan Broadband Cooperative is working to extend broadband to more rural townships in Washtenaw and Jackson counties.

“It was apparent no organization was going to come in and solve it for us,” said Ben Fineman, the group’s president and an organizer who helped bring Lyndon Township’s broadband proposal to the polls.

Broadband grassroots organizer Ben Fineman is trying to bring broadband to rural townships near Ann Arbor. (Courtesy photo)

Fineman said other neighboring townships are looking at ways of bringing in broadband, including Sharon Township where a millage vote on fiber optic cable is scheduled for May 2018.

“People have come to understand that broadband access is necessary for participation on modern society,” Fineman said.

Fineman said he uses a PowerPoint slide that compares this challenge to the federal government’s drive to electrify rural America in the 1930s.

“The only difference is,” Fineman said, “I don’t see the federal government doing as much about it now.”

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Tue, 11/28/2017 - 8:12am

This is an example of the boring whine articles that Bridge wastes too much time on. People choose to live in the country because they like the space, the nature, the sense of self sufficiency and all that comes with these. The downsides are power outages, propane instead of natural gas, slower snow removal, more car deer accidents, dirt roads, snow days and on and on, but that's what comes with the choices they make (and benefits they get). This does require society or tax payers to try to ameliorate the downside of our choices nor does it require that Bridge needs to waste time with an article about it. Enough of these!

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 8:56am

Its unlikely conservative govt will leverage rural human and business capital anytime soon. Like rural electricication and interstate highways allegiance to the public and forsight are required something in short supply from neo con govt.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 5:05pm

Maybe they will maybe they won't, if it's worth their while companies will bring it or if people really want it they'll choose where they want to live based on availability rather than mandating or lobbying that other people pay to get it to them. Not sure what Neo con has to do with anything, but while we're at it maybe the author should complain that city slickers can't have goats?

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 2:57pm

Answer: SOLARPANELS.............windturbinesLET AMERICA LIVE NOW..

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 11:26am

Technically, you don't have to live with propane or power outages anymore. Solar and storage are becoming cheap enough that you really only need power lines as an energy backup. You can always use thermal solar and supplement with propane to save $$. If storage isn't cheap enough yet, give it a couple of years, it is dropping in price fast. A lot of homesteaders are using solar now even up in alaska.

Chuck Jordan
Tue, 11/28/2017 - 10:40pm

I agree with Matt, but since this is the way it is, schools should stop requiring on-line homework and testing. Discriminating against us country folks is just unAmerican.

John Newell
Sun, 12/03/2017 - 7:37am

I’m with Matt and Chuck. Broadband is anything but a necessity. This is a first world problem, and not much of a problem at that. Need to go to the library; oh no! That’s a perfect use of libraries, as libraries were a similar sol’n to the lack of print Media availability in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 6:25pm

It's not 1980 anymore.

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 6:51pm

Wow, what kind of rock do you live under, grandpa?

Mark Dobias
Tue, 11/28/2017 - 8:43am

I live and work in the UP. Lack of broadband is definitely an issue. Even more basic is the problem of the lack of seamless cell phone coverage.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 9:09am

We don't even have DSL as an option and we live only 16 miles from downtown Grand Rapids!
And yes, it made our last house difficult to sell. Oddly, at that site there was cable available but only on the other side of the road. It cost $8000 to bring it to the house!

Barry Visel
Tue, 11/28/2017 - 9:38am

I believe I submitted this comment before. MEC, a rural electric coop in SW MI, is lighting up their entire system with fiber optic. 25mg basic service, up and down, for 49.95/month (you can buy faster if you need it). No installation charge. I have works. If they can do it, why can’t the other rural electric coops in Michigan do it? Have you talked to MEC yet?

sam melvin
Tue, 03/20/2018 - 10:41am

No Installation charge ? well AT&T did say that,, but still trying to collect>

Kevin Grand
Tue, 11/28/2017 - 10:14am

Oh, how did our Republic ever survive without high speed broadband?

An observation which I made last weekend while I was out eating lunch with some friends, easily negates any purported benefit that Mr. Roelofs is aiming for with this piece.

In between conversations, I started to casually look at the diners at the adjacent table, several tables next to them, and then across the room.

On what was a holiday weekend, rather than most people actually speaking to each another, they actually had their noses buried in their cell phone screens checking their social feeds, watching videos and generally ignoring the people they were with.

Instead of looking for another excuse to have the government reach into our pockets to allay someone conscience, or gasp...invest their own money to solve what THEY think is a problem (see link below), people living in rural areas just might be onto something.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 11:12am

You may be right. This President was elected because of an ignorant, racist, sexist, loudmouth twitter feed.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 11/28/2017 - 8:37pm

Not even remotely close to the point I was making, Michael.

As for our President, go and read Donna Brazille's book on why he really got elected.

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 6:54pm

What, are you 100 years old, really? "Republic survive". Hello, grandpa, it's 21st century and highly competitive countries, with high technologies, including military around. People like you are clueless and harmful.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 11:10am

Most "people choose to live in the country" because of cheap housing.
Poverty is rampant in the same counties.
It is insulting and elitist to claim otherwise, that's it's a lifestyle choice.
Look at the lower 20% income levels and tell me are doing it because of the "wide open spaces".
Charlevoix Cheboygan Emmet Statewide
Median income (Top 5%) 317,930 241,494 374,282 270,710
Median income (Bottom 20%) 12,377 10,927 13,656 10,979

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 6:29pm

I make 100,000 and I live in the country.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 11:15am

Thanks for this informative article: we know that rural Michiganders struggle economically, and it's further disadvantaging them with no fast wifi service.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 12:09pm

Rather then try and extend broadband. It actually makes more sense to extend the cellular networks. get the fiber down for the cell towers, then they can avoid the last mile cost of running cable which is the most expensive part. Then we can ditch the subsidies for the analogue telcom system. LTE isn't gigabit fiber but it is usuable, and probably more reliable since the snow and wind aren't going to knock the lines down.

Ironically it ends up similar to the millenial cord cutters, who don't want to pay for cabletv, wired internet and never had a landline. because they can do everything they want with their cell phone.

People and kids especially are at a significant disadvantage without the internet. It is an extremely useful tool for looking up information, if you are able to sort through the bunk. It improves your ability to learn new skills that are applicable to improving your life. I mean for 30 bucks you can get like a raspberrypi computer hook it up to a tv and learn programming and do some automation, or use it with a 15 dollar micro:bit and really learn to do easy automation type of programming. Very useful tools to help kids get ahead. Even for simpler stuff like car/house repairs, etc., you can look most of it up.

The Republicans are typically the ones who don't want to fund rural access which pushes rural folks further behind the curve.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 9:41am

I have an old car and it would be ridiculously expensive to find a mechanic who can work on old foreign vehicles, but every mechanic's schematic I need is on a forum of which I am a part. This access (which is through really crappy Comcast DSL that goes out whenever the weather is anything but bright, still, and sunny...and I'm in a small city) has saved me thousands because we can look up home repairs, building code, automotive repairs, order parts cheaply online, and that's not even including the advantages of reaching a wider group of folks when something isn't needed anymore and it can be sold via craigslist or ebay. It's an advantage educationally and in learning basic skills that can make a difference between a $20 part for a furnace and a few hundred dollar repairman's bill.

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 11:02am

Call comcast everytime it goes out. By state law they have to refund the days worth of service. What you are trying to do is get a whole stack of documentation on the problem. So schedule techs to come out. But chances are they aren't sending a strong enough signal, or there is a break in the distribution wire (which they do break), but the tech they send out really has to escalate it because that is a completely different crew. You might have to convince him, they assume you know nothing, but they can't ignore 50 calls and 5 tech visits.

I look up all repairs too. A lot of times it is a common problem, and you can find the answer or do a basic diagnosis. At the very least, you understand what the repair person is talking about. Sometimes it saves you money, sometimes you have to buy a new tool and end up breaking even, usually I plan on about 3x longer to do then a pro. :) Once you have the tools, and a little bit of skill, the next fix becomes a bit easier. Almost all of my tools have been paid for via diy projects/repairs that come from gleaning information from the internet.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 1:20pm

What are the chances that lack of broadband or cell phone service is reluctance of the residents to have any of the infrastructure to support this service installed? I have spotty cell phone service at my house. A company that builds cell towers wanted to put one up and sell/rent space on it to 6 different carriers. The tower would look like a flagpole, albeit 125' tall, 4' diameter at the base tapering to 1' at the top. You would be surprised at the hostility to erecting such a thing in "their pristine area". Everything from "it would block the view", no matter that electric lines were already there and the pole at 500' distance would obstruct 1/4 degree of their field of vision, to it will cause cancer (hey, do you have a microwave in your house?), or it will lower property values (I mean who wants a house without cell service?). Finally, the contractor threw in the towel and we still have spotty cell service with no relief in sight. The NIMBY's win again.

Prof K Kolk
Tue, 11/28/2017 - 8:29pm

For over 40 years I lived exactly half way between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids and two miles from the US 131 freeway. We could only get internet access through a DSL line and later through a cell phone taped to a window. Both were slow. The DSL was pricey and we could depend on it going out in December during the first big snow storm. It took ATT days to fix it, but they charged us for days it didn't work! Then they brought a fiber cable less than a half mile from the box that served our home to serve a single business, but wouldn't go the extra bit to provide over 100 homes with reliable internet services from the box!

The ultimate insult was the internet coverage maps of the Bradley area of Allegan County showed that we had full service. Even the coming of the Gun Lake Casino didn't get us service.

Reading the comments so far I can see that most of the commentators haven't lived with the frustration of not being able to get reasonable, let alone affordable internet access. Before you pop off about this being some big plot by liberals. Allegan County hasn't voted for a Democratic candidate for President, Senator, or Member of Congress since the Civil War! Until you have lived for years unable to get reliable access to the internet that everyone else takes for granted, don't call this a boondoggle! In fact I dare any of you who have said that this isn't a equity issue; who would fight requiring service provider that serves part of a township [six square miles] to provide access to that service to all homes in the township; to just pull you plug and go without internet services until, say next July. Then you will know that this is not a service it is a necessity! I'll keep watch for your posts on the Bridge and I expect to see that you are silent for the next seven months. But, I really don't expect it to ever happen.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 9:45am

One of my housemates is trying to finish is associates and has gone from living with his mum in a house with solid internet access to living with us in a house with really spotty Comcast DSL (they don't maintain their lines- the wire bundle on the pole is horrifying and yes, we've called to talk to them...they just rent the line space and the company that owns them won't fix it due to us not being their customers). He's struggling to get his textbook to load and frustrated with assignments on a regular basis. It's not even just rural frustration- we may have "access" to decent internet service, but that doesn't mean it actually I understand you 100%.

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 2:20pm

The phone system which is/was the backbone of the internet is based on the telcom system. Both the state and the feds subsidize rural communications as well as electric. It isn't a far stretch to subsidize rural internet. However, rather then running lines to the house, it is cheaper to do cell service, which can cover both internet and phone. Running wire to individual houses and maintaining it is -really- expensive. The Republicans keep cutting rural access funding. In otherwords, once you get outside the city, if there wasn't -some- subsidy, it wouldn't exist at all today.

The area that Prof Kolk is talking about was really bad. 20 years ago, when I was talking about it with someone, their phone system was still analogue, and there was a wiring issue with the whole area. If I recall correctly, they used to own their own exchange in like a coop fashion, but to keep rates down, they didn't wire in a standard fashion. Then when the digital switching came around, they couldn't afford to upgrade the system. They tried to pass a millage to upgrade it and it failed. Now there was something else screwy with the situation like they were paying large dividends to investors at the same time rates skyrocketed and they were cutting corners. I think it ended up becoming insolvent.

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 6:37pm

My neighbor has fiber and thats where it stops. I offered to run fiber myself down my 1000ft drive but the company said no. They will only hook it up if they do the whole thing to the tune of 7500 bucks! Casair what a joke.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 9:50am

It seems short-sighted on the part of some folks commenting to infer that country dwellers' kids won't need to learn via web-based tools. College applications, scholarships, job applications, job assignments, most college coursework, even trade courses, certifications, and state/federal paperwork if you are a distance from an office...they are more and more leaning paperless. It's saying that these folks don't deserve to function in the digital world that is more and more the expected norm in these areas. I started college on dial-up because we couldn't afford cable internet. I was living at home to save on those expenses.
I could hardly do my homework (and this was a decade ago) and eventually we had to upgrade in order for me to keep doing my classwork. Access was critical then. This is nothing new- why are we still expecting different? Students need to be learning these skills in primary/secondary school, not just being dropped into them when the get either into college or strike out into the work world. To say that kids living in these areas don't need equal access is putting them at a disadvantage against their peers in more resourced areas in their educations and in their future careers.

It's hard to move into a more resource advantaged area- those are places where it is more expensive to live. If someone in poverty doesn't have the job skills, training, or education to get work in one of those areas, should their children be given no chance to take a different path through educational advantages? Because that's what we're getting to.

Education, the economy, the's all becoming more and more digital. No matter how much people may lament that, it's not reversing. So the question is who do we want to allow to come along into that present reality and who do we want to leave behind?

P. Hudson
Wed, 11/29/2017 - 1:13pm

This is not a simple question with simple answers. Extending all infrastructure to areas of lower population density has a cost to the whole society if it is subsidized but if we depend upon the "market" then the cost of service is too high for most rural users who need it the most. We have already seen that extending paved roads, rural electric, rural mail delivery, rural telephone and even county sheriff deputies out into low population density areas is a direct cause of 'urban sprawl' and urban decay. These all contribute to farm v. non-farm conflicts in rural/ex-urban areas. To put it bluntly, all of this infrastructure extended into low population areas is a form of socialism - this needs to be acknowledged and the fact that this is a subsidy paid for by increasing costs to higher density urban areas. In a true capitalist society it should be cheaper to live in the city with more services than in the suburbs or rural areas. Likewise it should be cheaper to live in a rural village than out on 5 or 10 acres that are not farmed. What the state of Michigan actually has is the opposite.

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 2:27pm

It is actually most of the rural US that is exactly the opposite. It isn't an issue with just Michigan. But what happens is people move out to the country, then have to spend more time driving to a city to get to work, or they end up living off of some government subsidy program. So rent is cheaper, but they end up spending more on gas to get to a lower paying job then complain they aren't making any money, and the problem is the inner city people that get about the same money in subsidies.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 11:53pm

“I think it’s absolutely critical for all Michigan residents to have equal access to the Internet,” said Eric Frederick. Mr. Frederick should you describe what ‘equal access’ means so others can better understand why access to high speed internet is such a necessity.

As for Mr. Hammer’s complaint about having to drive to the public library to high speed internet service, I live in a city with high speed access and yet when I visit our local library, with a couple dozen internet access computers, I always see them all in service. I wonder why if people in our town use the library for internet access, that somehow, it is an egregious situation for people who choose to live in rural areas.

I wonder how many of those who live in rural areas [with low speed access] considered high speed internet access when choosing to live where they are. It seems to me that where people live [rural, urban, or in between] is a choice and when making that choice they weigh the lifestyle vs. the availability of services such as internet service, medical care/hospitals, education, high paying jobs. This article leaves the impression of having a theme, that having to choose is somehow wrong and everyone should have what they want not having to sacrifice and not have to choose.

Ken G
Thu, 11/30/2017 - 9:05pm

It's ashamed terrorists overseas have better access to the internet than our own people that live in the country do.

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 1:39pm

Comcast is the only provider in my area. All of the houses are wired except for mine. There is a cable connection on a pole 173 feet from my house. The technicians say they are only allowed to run 150 of cable without supervisor permission.
The supervisor in Bad Axe has refused to grant permission; return my phone calls; and has not conducted a site survey.
I can't get any service even though the cable hook up is right there.
Comcast has terrible customer service.

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 6:25pm

Now that everything is done on the internet just about, it's time us folks out in the country get some high speed internet. Internet where I live sucks.

sam melvin
Tue, 03/20/2018 - 10:37am

before Senator carl levin left congress he signed the bill and allocated BIG money to Broadband for michigan .ANN Arbor companies ..and on.

sam melvin
Mon, 08/06/2018 - 3:01pm

Check the records of Congress Where they deal OUT EARMARKS and Money Michigan for BROABAND installations under CARL LEVIN and REP.John DINGELL for all michigan
Now we have WIFI.Ann ARBOR companies received $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
My records are at home to give more info!

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 3:03pm

Very Funny ...AT&T installed fiberoptic in my building(we have Cable) so we senior switch...
but it is ............I am going back to cable!

Sat, 10/27/2018 - 7:01pm

It's like I'm reading about some remote impoverished country in Africa, not the state in the US. Look all the comments from uneducated, crusty, ignorant people here, who thing broadband isn't necessary in the modern world. A lot of jobs require broadband now and are remote!! Want to live near a drug or non-working drunks instead? You'll get what you want, then, your county will rot in poverty!