Federal funds to connect thousands of Michiganders to affordable high-speed internet

By Kyle Kaminski

November 1, 2023

Grants awarded through President Joe Biden’s ‘Internet for All’ initiative will hook up more than 70,000 Michigan households with high-speed internet connections.

MICHIGAN—More than $200 million in federal grant funding awarded last week in Michigan through President Joe Biden’s “Internet for All” initiative will help build out the infrastructure needed to connect over 70,000 homes and businesses to high-speed internet for the first time.

“Every Michigander deserves access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet that meets their needs,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “A reliable connection is not a luxury—it’s a necessity for health care, education, employment, entertainment, and so much more.”

Statistics show that more than 8.5 million households and small businesses nationwide are located in areas without high-speed internet—including about 212,000 locations in Michigan. 

And with help from Biden’s administration, Michigan is working to close the digital divide.

The first round of the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program awarded $203 million in grant funds to 18 different projects from nine applicants in Michigan. Collectively, the applicants are making a total investment of $405 million and will connect 71,333 locations to fiber-to-the-home service, with opportunities for gigabit-speed connectivity.

The grant program—which was paid for through the US Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund—will also provide another $35 million in federal funding later this fall to support the deployment of high-speed internet to at least 20,000 more Michigan homes.

“One of the biggest hurdles we need to overcome to jumpstart economic development in places like Northern Michigan is access to high-speed internet,” said state Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City). “I am thrilled to see more homes and businesses will be connected to this vital service to help kids complete their schoolwork and entrepreneurs reach their customers.”

All told, Biden’s Internet for All initiative is set to provide more than $48 billion in funding to train the workers and build the infrastructure necessary to support high-speed internet connections for all Americans. Most of that funding comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Biden signed in 2021. The law earmarked a total of $42.45 billion for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, which will provide funds to help connect every household and business in the country.

In June, Whitmer announced a separate,“game-changing” $1.5 billion investment from Biden’s administration that’s set to expand access to broadband internet to every household in Michigan. And state officials said the funding will play a major role in connecting more Michiganders to education, health care, and economic opportunities through the internet.

Michigan received a $1.6 billion allocation in the BEAD program, and the state High-Speed Internet Office has since drafted a plan for identifying every home and business in the state that lacks access to high-speed internet. Applications for those grants are set to open next year.

In the meantime, about $14.2 billion in federal assistance is also already available for Michiganders to access now through the Affordable Connectivity Program, which is designed to to help low-income families score discounts on their internet bills and computer purchases. Officials said more than 650,000 Michiganders have enrolled in the program since 2021.

READ MORE: Biden Plan to to Connect 200K Michiganders to High-Speed Internet

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Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

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CATEGORIES: POLITICS

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