New Technology Will Bring High-Speed Internet Access to Thousands in the Rural U.P.

“We need broadband access in every corner of Michigan its critically important to bring back our smaller communities,” Governor Rick Snyder, said.

A promise from the governor in January gaining traction, a new player is helping the push for statewide broadband access.

The governor announced the plan in August and gave several reasons why.

Right now Michigan ranks 30th in the country for broadband availability.

More than 350,000 households do not have access to high-speed internet service, mostly in rural areas.

He says closing that gap could bring about $2.5 billion in potential economic opportunities to the region.

Wednesday in Chippewa County Packerland Broadband alongside tech-giant Microsoft unveiled new technology giving Yoopers in rural areas access to high-speed home internet, for the first time.

“We didn’t think that this is something we were going to have for a long time,” Amy TenEyck, said.

The TenEyck family lives in Dafter, this new technology finally has them up to speed.

“Its way faster its comparable to any high speed, it’s hard to tell the difference from what we have. It’s made life easier, especially homework and stuff for the kids and everything they do,” Jason TenEyck added.

Tests show their new connection is 25 to 40 times faster than what they dealt with before.

“You had trouble getting web pages loaded, just took a while to get anything. We’ve been in contact trying to find something faster something better,” TenEyck, explained.

“Microsoft basically said, it’s time to get rural broadband, TV white-space is a tool to get that done,” Packerland Broadband VP Cory Higel said.

With antennas, people can receive a wireless spectrum signal from up to five miles away, with technology attached to tower.

Higel says TV white-space has largely gone unused until now.

“Sitting there dormant nobody is using it, people who have tried in the past have failed or didn’t put enough time and energy into doing it. Let’s build an ecosystem around it so it can become successful,” Higel, added.

A step to keep people more connected in Northern Michigan.

“There’s really truly a digital divide and its not good, its not good for anybody,” he explained.

The goal is to have a few thousand people hooked up with this technology by the end of 2019.

As Packerland installs the technology for customers across the Upper Peninsula they say they’re constantly looking at ways to improve it.

That includes expanding the distance from a tower they can service.

They say a federal regulation puts a limit on how high they can place technology on towers.

1st District Congressman Jack Bergman says he plans to champion the effort to change that by talking to constituents and the FCC about those regulations.

“This white space spectrum is the right answer going forward is to use it for this type of rural broadband connectivity that benefits the families and the small businesses. We don’t want shortsighted solutions we want something that’s going to benefit our residents here in the Upper Peninsula,” Rep. Bergman, said.

If you’re living in a rural area of the UP and want to get connected contact Packerland Broadband at 800-236-8434.