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April 23, 2021
For Immediate Release
For More Information Contact:
Barb Fuller – Chair, Washtenaw County Broadband Task Force
WASHTENAW COUNTY BROADBAND TASK FORCE OFFERS UPDATE ON ACHIEVING COUNTYWIDE BROADBAND ACCESS BY 2022
ANN ARBOR, MI – At the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners Working Session meeting last evening, the Broadband Task Force provided an update on their work to bridge the digital divide across all of Washtenaw County.
Vice-Chair of the Task Force and Lyndon Township resident Ben Fineman stated the following as he shared the news of Broadband Funding in the County’s rural areas, “Your support has helped this group to position our rural communities to receive grant funding that will yield digital connectivity to most. We are now working to identify ‘last mile’ solutions that will achieve complete broadband equity throughout Washtenaw County. Once completed, we will be the first county in the State of Michigan that has taken active measures to ensure that 100% of our residents have access to high-speed broadband infrastructure.”
Fineman reported that of the estimated 8,479 premises identified as unserved, 4,711 will benefit from the Rural Digital Opportunity Grant Fund (RDOF) that was announced late last year. Construction in 14 townships is expected to begin as soon as next year, with a mandated completion within 6 years. The Task Force is now working to help identify solutions to bring broadband coverage to those premises not identified in the RDOF grant award, having recently conducted a Request for Information to help the group understand the best approach to complete their charge of ‘Countywide Broadband Coverage by 2022’.
Commissioners Shannon Beeman and Jason Maciejewski represent rural communities who are most impacted by the lack of internet connectivity, Commissioner Beeman states, “Washtenaw County is a leader in so many areas; I’m proud that the tireless work of the Broadband Task Force, along with the support of my fellow Commissioners, will ensure the quality of life for residents will significantly improve when every person who wishes to have high-speed internet access, may.”
“The diligent and proactive work of the Broadband Task Force has enabled our county to take advantage of new broadband funding opportunities” said Commissioner Maciejewski. “Their work will result in unserved residents being able to access education, health care and resources that others take for granted. I’m grateful to have been a part of this enormous accomplishment.”
The Broadband Task Force is simultaneously working on a funding model to incentivize public-private partnership that could lead to ‘last mile’ success for all of Washtenaw County. The American Rescue Plan Act funding has a specific mention of utilizing the relief funds to provide broadband accessibility to all residents of the County. The Board of Commissioners will be accepting public comment on the proposed uses of ARP funding at a later date.