State of Michigan Puts Together Free Community Hotspot Map

The access to quality internet in rural areas has been a long-discussed issue.

With the COVID-19 pandemic pushing us to work and learn from home, it has further highlighted just how big the issue is. Untitled Project 2

“Broadband is becoming that linchpin service for all residents but partially residents in rural communities,” said Michigan Public Service Commissioner Tremaine Phillips.

Phillips says the COVID-19 pandemic put the issue of broadband access to the forefront.

That’s why the state put together a map to connect people to free hotspots nearby.

“This map is not a static document, it will be a living resource,” Phillips said.  “This is something that will be of use during the pandemic and after.”

He says it’s a work in progress because there are areas with large gaps between hotspots.

“I know this is not the end all solution,” Phillips said. “This a bridge from where we are at today, where 10% of Michigan households do not have access to broadband and the vast majority of those households are in rural areas.”

Like the Eastern Upper Peninsula, where the intermediate school district (EUPISD) and superintendent Angie McArthur have been working to increase internet access to their students.

“Right now we have 49 school sponsored access points across the Eastern UP, which our district is 4,000 square miles and so that’s a big area to cover,” McArthur said.

She says they have a total of 100 hotspots they are working to put up.

“It doesn’t take away the fact that there are some areas that just do not have hotspots,” McArthur said.

She says one silver lining in the pandemic: all these resources devoted to increasing connectivity.

“It illustrated the inequities of our students and our staff with their availability of adequate and affordable broadband internet connectivity,” McArthur said. “That’s probably the silver lining of COVID is that it brought it to a national conversation.”

To see the EUPISD community hotspot map, click here.

To see the statewide hotspot map, click here.

Categories: Coronavirus