Community of Partnerships
Access to reliable and affordable internet is a prerequisite for sustainable economic growth in the Eastern Upper Peninsula (EUP). Delivering healthcare and education services effectively requires high speed internet. Banks, businesses, entrepreneurs, and local units of government require consistent, secure access to high-speed internet to reach customers. Unfortunately, service across the EUP is often unavailable, unreliable, or inadequate. This was made even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of this reality is far-reaching. Equitable access throughout our communities is imperative.
This does not need to be our accepted norm any longer. There are exciting new opportunities in expansion and upgrades of services. Recent investments by our private sector partners in our communities have improved service. The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is injecting $37 million into the EUP. Local communities and schools are receiving an influx of stimulus relief. The list of opportunities goes on.
How do we help? We start by building the community of partnerships that will share the burden to resolve inequitable access to connectivity in our region. Not-for-profit organizations need to take the lead and create the right organizational structure to facilitate everyone, public and private, working together.
Now is the time for action! There is urgent need to leverage the collective investment of all our partners to connect education, healthcare, communities, and industry.
For several years, the EUP Intermediate School District has been working on a cost effective broadband service for the three eastern cost counties of the UP. This goal was an out-growth of the services the EUP had been providing, since the 1990’s of internet services to area educational institutions. The holdup until now has been funding.
With the passing of the Infrastructure Bill in early 2021, the funding is now possible. Every municipality, educational institution, and Tribe has been allocated funds to implement broadband.