High-speed Internet to be more accessible in Niles TownshipPublished 9:00am Friday, March 19, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
High-speed Internet could become a lot more accessible to residents in Niles Township with the construction of a new fiber-optic network that will provide service throughout underserved counties in Michigan.
The Rural, Education, Anchor, Community and Health Care Michigan Middle Mile Collaborative project received a $33.3 million federal stimulus grant in January that will go toward the 955-mile fiber-optic network. It will bring service to 886,147 households and 45,875 businesses.
Merit Network, ACD.net and three other commercial Internet providers will join together to build the network.
Berrien and Cass are two of 32 counties that will benefit from increased access to broadband Internet.
Niles Township recently received a request from telecommunications and Internet provider ACD.net to be allowed to bring the network through the township.
Township supervisor Jim Kidwell said Secretary Marge Durm Hiatt is preparing a letter to give ACD.net the go-ahead.
“It sounds like it’s going to be an advantage to people in the outlying areas of the township to get quicker Internet access,” Kidwell said. “Comcast will only go out to areas where there are enough people that will pay for their services. If there are only one or two house on the road, they will not have access.”
The construction of the network is quite the endeavor with a total cost of $41.6 million with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant covering 80 percent of it.
“Schools and businesses in rural areas that provide essential services to the public will now have access to leading-edge infrastructure,” ACD.net President Kevin Schoen said in a January press release. “The fiber optics will enhance the quality of life and bolster economic development for rural citizens. The network will facilitate connections between the rural areas with the urban areas, and provide capacity between numerous cities in Michigan.”
Engineering is already underway and construction of the network is scheduled to begin in May.