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Michigan receives $61M internet grant

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(The Center Square) – Michigan will receive a $61 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to the Peninsula Fiber Network to improve high-speed internet access for underserved communities.

This grant is being awarded with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding.

“From St. Joseph to Houghton, we are working to ensure every Michigander has access to quality, affordable high-speed internet,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “I am proud of Michigan-based Peninsula Fiber Network for securing critical funding to connect more people to high-speed internet. Since I took office, we have expanded access to 23,000 more families and small businesses so students can connect with their teachers, people can access health care services, and companies can grow.”

The grant will allow the network to carry out its Infrastructure for Michigan’s Peninsula and Critical Crossings project. The funding will place 535 miles of new middle-mile fiber through underserved and unserved communities across Michigan. The project aims to construct undersea routes between Charlevoix to Beaver Island to Guilliver in the Upper Peninsula, and Benton Harbor to Chicago as well as overland fiber routes connecting Charlevoix to Grayling, Port Huron to Flint, and Benton Harbor to Grand Rapids.

The additional middle mile capacity will help provide lower costs and faster speeds for last-mile deployments while improving reliability and redundancy for existing networks across the state.

Peninsula Fiber Network General Manager Scott Randall said the improvements should boost the economy by ensuring Michiganders can work or play using fast internet.

Chief Connectivity Officer Eric Frederick welcomed the funding.

“The MIHI team is thrilled that this crucial grant will address the unique middle mile fiber needs of our two-peninsula state and would significantly aid in the success of the BEAD program to achieve affordable, reliable high-speed internet for all Michiganders,” Frederick said in a statement.

BEAD is an acronym for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program.

The Middle Mile Grant Program provides up to $1 billion in funding allotted by IIJA for constructing, improving, and acquiring middle-mile infrastructure. The purpose of the grant program is to expand and extend middle-mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting areas that are unserved or underserved to the internet backbone.

Michigan’s Chief Infrastructure Office Zachary Kolodin said the funding will be key to closing the digital divide.

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