Sara Swanson

County joins effort to bring broadband to rural Washtenaw

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This map shows where fixed residential broadband services of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload is deployed and where it is not deployed. Yellow has broadband access, blue does not. Map from FCC (as of June 2016).

According to a study the FCC released earlier this summer, almost 30% of the rural population of Washtenaw does not have fixed broadband access (as compared to less than 5% of the population in urban Washtenaw that does not have access to fixed broadband). Because of this reality, Sharon Township has been working to install broadband, Township-wide, themselves, following a process established by the Michigan Broadband Cooperative. A group in Manchester Township is trying to get the Township to follow Sharon’s lead and sent out a Township-wide broadband survey to every property owner with the summer tax-statement. And, last month Washtenaw County itself has joined the effort to bring broadband to rural Washtenaw.

At the County Commissioners’ July 12th meeting, the Board approved a resolution to create a broadband subcommittee of 11 to 13 members to assess Washtenaw County’s disparate broadband coverage and make recommendations about how to achieve county-wide broadband equity. It passed unanimously (with Commissioner Alicia Ping absent). The committee will consist of 3 commissioners and 8 external stakeholders and/or experts.

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