Many Northern Michiganders know about the rarity that is high-speed internet in rural areas. And the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance says the latest FCC Broadband Map could lead to those rural areas missing out on internet.
The federal government is giving out $42 billion for states to expand access to broadband. The state must demonstrate a need for broadband expansion. However, with the FCC’s map showing Michigan as ‘100% covered,’ Henry Wolf, with the Chamber Alliance says we could miss out.
“If we don’t make our voices heard there’s a possibility we could lose out on a lot of money for broadband expansion,” Wolf explains.
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance is working with groups like the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance to raise awareness. They’re asking Northern Michigan residents to challenge the FCC’s map. They say the more people that challenge the FCC’s Broadband Map, the more money the state will get.
Wolf says Northern Michigan missing out on the funding would be detrimental to the region’s economy.
“As we all know this isn’t just a business thing. We look at education, what we went through in 2020 and 2021. Not having access to high-speed internet simply isn’t an option anymore,” Wolf says.
The Mayor of East Jordan, Mark Penzien, concurs saying more access to broadband will help Northern Michigan students and ‘invigorate’ rural communities.
“It’s just like the expressways or the side streets, you need to get to everyone,” Penzien states.
Residents can challenge the map at the FCC’s website online, something Wolf says is a bit unfair.
“That’s the ironic part. Such a vital component of this process is all done online. So, if we’re having trouble here in Northern Michigan with access to the internet, it’s just another barrier to making our voice heard. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to let folks know how they can [challenge].”
. Once you’ve made it to the site, search your address and click on the dot representing your home. Click ‘location challenge’ on the right side of the screen and complete the prompt.
The deadline to submit a challenge is January 13, 2023.