The Biden administration is awarding Michigan service providers $55.7 million through a grant and loan program to bring high-speed internet access to those without it in rural areas of the state.
The federal funding is part of $759 million announced for 24 states Thursday by the Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program, which is for applicants that serve areas without access to service at speeds of 100 megabits per second.
Three Michigan applicants will receive the grant funds, including $34.5 million for the Upper Peninsula Telephone Co. to connect an estimated 1,625 people, 69 farms, 40 businesses and two educational facilities to high-speed internet in the UP, according to USDA. Those sites are located in Dickinson, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee and Ontonagon counties.
The Michigan Central Broadband Company LLC is set to receive $14.9 million to connect 360 people, 52 farms and seven businesses high-speed internet in Crawford, Kalkaska, Otsego and Près Isle counties, according to USDA.
And DMCI Broadband LLC will receive $3.1 million in grant funding and a $3.1 million loan to connect 2,899 people, 94 farms, 56 businesses and four educational facilities to high-speed internet in Branch and Hillsdale counties, USDA said.
The projects will be built out over five years, officials said. The program requires ReConnect applicants to commit to constructing facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service with speeds of 100 megabits per second to every location in its proposed service area.
Each of the internet providers are participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s affordable connectivity program, which provides a discount of up to $30 per month to qualifying households.
Experts have estimated that nearly 40% of US households are eligible for the program, which roughly 493,000 households in Michigan have already signed up for, according to the White House.
Coupled with the announcement earlier this year that the Biden administration secured commitments from 20 leading internet service providers to offer eligible households high-speed internet plans for no more than $30 per month, this means that many qualifying households will receive internet access for free or close to it, officials have said.
The White House said this week’s ReConnect announcement includes funding from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law that was passed last year.