Allegan County invests millions of federal funds in broadband
ALLEGAN TOWNSHP, Mich. (WOOD) – Allegan County is preparing to use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to expand broadband access.
Robert Sarro, the district administrator, said using the money for internet infrastructure is one of the top suggestions from residents.
“We have some areas that have very good coverage and uptime and are cost effective. We have areas where there is virtually no viable way to bring home 100 megabit internet speeds,” Sarro said.
Sarro said the initial cost of installing fiber optic lines often prevents companies from offering services in rural areas.
“For vendors running the infrastructure for … what they call ‘last mile efforts’, it’s very difficult to get a return on investment for those vendors,” Sarro said.
Millions of dollars are pouring into high-speed internet and water infrastructure improvement projects.
“Overall, the district has received close to 23 million, and all of that is really being spent on broadband and water quality,” Sarro said.
According to CEO and general manager Steve Shults, companies like Bloomingdale Communications say high-speed internet access is critical to attracting businesses and residents to live in rural areas.
“If I look at our call volume, the volume that our customer service reps are seeing right now, 40% of our calls are people checking in. ‘Have you covered my home? Are you planning a project in my house? When can I use the service?’” Shults said.
Shults said while interest in broadband is strong, it can be difficult to get equipment for expansion.
“What we’re seeing is hyperinflation in terms of cost, but also long lead times, especially in the electronics and all the materials and consumables, so the fiber optics, those socket boxes that are lying off the road,” Shults said.
Allegan County hopes the funding can be used as effectively as possible to reach those who do not have high-speed options.
An estimated 12,000 households in the county do not have access to 100 megabit services.
“That is our goal. Really to make sure that affordable, reliable, high-speed internet is available to anyone who wants it,” Shults said.
The district hopes to place the orders by the end of the year.
https://www.woodtv.com/news/allegan-county/allegan-county-investing-millions-of-federal-funds-in-broadband/ Allegan County invests millions of federal funds in broadband