Thu, Jan 19, 2023 3:31 PM
By Scott McClallen, The Center Square
The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office opened the application window for $238 million of federal funding for broadband infrastructure networks for underserved areas statewide.
The program is called the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks.
“The mission of MIHI is to create a more digitally equitable state where every Michigander can leverage technology to improve their quality of life,” Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Susan Corbin said in a statement. “The ROBIN Grant Program will provide the dollars needed for the development and expansion of broadband infrastructure to underserved areas and increase internet access and affordability to many Michigan families and businesses.”
Eligible applicants for ROBIN include internet service providers, those licensed under the MI Telecommunications Act, franchise holders under the Uniform Video Services Local Franchise Act, or any entity currently providing broadband service in the state. Partnerships between communities and internet service providers are also encouraged.
“MIHI has developed detailed educational materials to give potential ROBIN applicants the guidance and tools they need to make informed decisions,” Michigan Chief Connectivity Officer Eric Frederick said in a statement. “We are excited to officially launch the program and provide funds that are a critical part of Michigan’s broadband expansion plan. ROBIN will allow internet service providers and public-private partnerships to develop broadband infrastructure to the state’s unserved areas.”
Potential applicants can find information on the MIHI funding page.
The application window closes at 4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.
The grant program aims to provide faster internet, especially to rural and underserved communities. Michigan has worked for years to expand and provide better internet access statewide.
In 2022, NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association, named Highline Fast Internet a Smart Rural Community provider, which has connected eight townships in rural Michigan to gigabit-speed fiber internet.
Congressman Jack Bergman welcomed the internet expansion.
"We appreciate NTCA’s recognition of our townships and celebrate the hard work each community and key player poured into earning the designation of a Smart Rural Community," Bergman said in a statement. "It’s imperative that our rural communities can offer residents equitable access so they are equipped to fully participate in today’s connected society. I’m proud to witness and assist in the economic, business, and educational advancements gained from high-speed internet access for our district."