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ISP Announces $250M Internet Expansion in Michigan

Residents in northern Macomb County and the surrounding region could see increased broadband access in the near future due to the efforts of town and county officials and Internet service provider Comcast.

(TNS) — Residents in northern Macomb County could see increased broadband access in the near future due to the efforts of county officials, township supervisors and Comcast.

"I am proud to report to the residents of Washington Township that Comcast will be investing over $250 million to expand broadband in the tri-community, including rural parts of our township," said Washington Township Supervisor Sam Previti.

During a Jan. 16 town hall presentation, Macomb County Commissioner Don Brown talked about the results of a tri-county survey, which was implemented with the help of SEMCOG, that showed there are still pockets of northern Macomb County without broadband access.

"After COVID, it exposed a lot of the problems people had with access to broadband and Internet services," Brown said. "Everything was being done from home and we realized that not everyone had the level of service they needed to educate their children and take care of things they needed to take care of."

Brown said results of the survey showed many residents in Richmond, Armada and Romeo villages and Washington, Bruce, and Ray townships are either completely disconnected or experiencing a lack of choice of Internet providers or high costs for whatever service is available.

"The issues out here are different than in some other areas of the county," Brown said. "People here might not have access at all, where in the southern end of the county there may be access, but affordability is an issue."

Comcast Government Affairs Director Jerome Record told residents at the town hall his company is upgrading and adding infrastructure in several areas in northern Macomb County, but that the task of connecting residents to broadband and ensuring there is equal access across the county is complex.

"We are prepping right now for construction so that we can connect those residents in those small, remaining gaps who do not have access," Record said. "But Macomb County's biggest challenge to connectivity is adoption, not infrastructure."

Record said 99 percent of Macomb County has access to "world class" broadband infrastructure, but at the same time, 13% of Macomb County residents do not have a laptop, tablet or desktop computer in their home and one in five households do not subscribe to any home Internet service.

"Closing the digital divide requires investment in the human network to help more people get connected," Record said.

He added Comcast and county and township officials are looking into ways to fund digital skills training for residents and provide low income families with tablets or laptops. They also hope to increase awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a government program that provides low-income households a credit of up to $30 per month towards their Internet and/or mobile services.

"I know we don't have a lot of choices here when it comes to broadband, but Comcast is willing to make an investment in our area and I think this will be beneficial to residents," Previti said.

©2024 The Macomb Daily, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.