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Manchester Township Board to decide future of Broadband in Township at January 9th meeting

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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).

Last summer, Manchester Township’s board conducted a survey of residents to determine access to and interest in fixed broadband internet access, defined by the FCC is download speeds of 25 megabits per second or greater. The survey showed that outside of the village, only 3% of Manchester Township residents have fixed broadband internet access. In that same survey, 62% of all residents called high speed internet access “Very Important”, and another 24% called it “Important” to them. Additionally, 92% of Manchester Township residents support the board pursuing a feasibility study that will determine how, how much, and how fast Manchester Township could build its own broadband infrastructure for connecting every household to a broadband connection.

Read the complete Manchester Township broadband survey results here.

On Tuesday, January 9th at the regular 7 pm meeting of the Manchester Township Board, the board will decide whether or not to pursue a feasibility study or to postpone the decision. The Manchester Township Broadband Initiative, a resident-initiated group advocating for rural broadband in Manchester Township, will be attending the meeting, and asks all interested residents to attend and speak out at the meeting.

Manchester Township will not be making its decision in a vacuum but in the context of decisions being made by other nearby township governments; all following a path laid out by the Michigan Broadband Cooperative, an all-volunteer organization working to bring broadband to rural townships in western-Washtenaw and Jackson County. The path, which begins with the survey, then a feasibility study, requires a township-wide vote to make a final decision.

Sharon Township, having completed their feasibility study in February of 2017, will be voting this coming May whether or not to build a fiber optic system throughout the county. Lyndon Township, just north of Chelsea, held their vote in August of 2017. Lyndon Township residents voted 622 (66%) yes and 321 (34%) no in favor of building their own fiber optic system. Lyndon Township estimates they will have cap-free, broadband high-speed internet access up and running to every home by the end of 2018.

If the Manchester Township Board votes to authorize the feasibility study next Tuesday, it will form the basis of a plan that can be voted on by all township residents. If the study is not conducted, Manchester Township’s efforts to connect all of its rural residents to high speed internet will end for the time being.

For more information, read our previous coverage of the rural broadband issue here and visit the Michigan Broadband Cooperative’s website.

 

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