(AMN) – The Broadband Task Force continues to hear from the community about this initiative. The range of responses is vast. On one hand, we’re aware that some residents are concerned about their individual privacy after being asked questions about their access, and others have health concerns related to 5G. We take these responses seriously and honor the time taken to send concerns, and will consider this feedback in the decisions made about how to build a community network. It’s important that the public knows that data gathered about current access to the internet is aggregated based on geography, and individual, identifying details are removed from the analysis. Additionally, we do not anticipate using 5G or wireless technology for our connectivity solution because we believe wired fiber is the most reliable, long-term solution.
We’ve also received countless emails of support from individuals in rural Calhoun, who live in unserved areas where Internet Service Providers do not offer access in their townships. Multiple people report having to go to libraries or fast food chains to access the internet. When residents engage with ISPs to find solutions, often that involves a significant cost to the resident.
These are all valuable elements to understanding our current internet situation in Calhoun and considering ways to improve it, whether that’s building a community network and/or working with ISPs. Regardless, the Calhoun County Broadband Task Force seeks a solution that will wire high-speed internet to every home and business in the County with affordable rates.
Since July 2021, we’ve worked with the Michigan Moonshot Initiative, also known as Merit Network, to conduct a countywide survey to understand residents’ current broadband access. Merit will present the results of this survey to the public at the Feb. 17 Board of Commissioners meeting. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Commissioners Chambers at the County Building, which is located at 315 W Green St. in Marshall. The meeting is streamed live and available afterward on the County’s Youtube Channel.
This data collection is the foundational step to addressing the problem of lack of access in Calhoun County. By having access to accurate, granular-level data, because many FCC maps about broadband access are inaccurate, we can take realistic steps to improve access.
Using the data gathered by Merit, we will engage a company to assist with a feasibility study and cost benefit analysis. These elements are necessary to understand what sort of operation models are possible in Calhoun and what it would take to accomplish this, including the cost. These elements will make Calhoun County’s broadband project “shovel ready,” which makes it eligible for various state and federal grants. At this time we are building a relationship with a company called CTC Technology and Energy, which has the expertise to develop these critical next steps. CTC has worked with governments and non-profits throughout the country on a range of projects. Click here to learn more.
Thank you to everyone in Calhoun who has expressed their support and concerns about this process. We are dedicated to transparency throughout this initiative and will continue our work to bring high-speed, reliable internet to all residents and businesses in Calhoun.