Around 5,000 Berrien County homes that currently have no access to high-speed internet will soon have it now that the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office has approved a $27 million grant for Midwest Energy and Communications to roll out broadband.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer this week announced $203 million in ROBIN grants are going to 18 broadband projects around the state. Among the approved projects is MEC’s.

Berrien County Administrator Brian Dissette tells us now that MEC has received final approval, there’s big work coming to the county.

“It’s a tremendous win,” Dissette said. “The county, the local units of government are just thrilled with the confirmation of the ROBIN grant. What this means is a growing majority of the entire county will have easy, affordable access to high speed internet.”

Berrien County has been working for a few years to expand broadband availability, creating a broadband committee that engaged internet service providers and township governments. Dissette says one of the major tasks of the county was mapping out where broadband really is available.

“We engaged DCS Technologies to physically go out and inventory every mile of public roadway to determine where broadband networks were located, and where they absolutely were not located.”

A study in 2022 found more than 11,500 parcels in the county with no broadband access. They were located throughout the county, even in cities.

Dissette says major work to roll out fiber will take place starting late this year and throughout next year.

A side benefit will be the new fiber being laid by MEC will have to pass through some areas that already have service, thereby giving those residents a new option for internet.

The state announced tentative approval for MEC’s ROBIN grant in June, but now it’s been made final.


More Information: ROBIN Broadband
Created on Tuesday, November 14, 2023