By Ralph Echtinaw
The effort to provide high speed internet throughout Gratiot County took a hit recently, as internet service provider Point Broadband essentially told the Federal Communications Commission that the county is already 100 percent covered.
Furthermore, Point Broadband and Homeworks (another ISP serving Gratiot County) told the county’s broadband committee that they aren’t interested in getting a wedge of the $250 million grant pie that state government will dish out next year.
The idea behind the ROBIN grants is to funnel funds to ISPs serving rural counties with connectivity issues. The money is expected to be used to lay fiber optic cable (among other things) to bring high speed internet to everyone in the county. But no ISP serving Gratiot County can come within sniffing distance of a ROBIN grant as long as Point Broadband’s claim of 100 percent coverage goes unchallenged.
County commissioners expected Point Broadband and Homeworks to be excited about the possibility of help funding these improvements, but “neither team seemed to be very interested,” said County Commissioner John Lemmermann, who sat on the broadband committee. “Both of them are having a hard time with labor, and so they have a vision of where they’re going, and they’re constrained because they don’t have the labor to get done what they want to get done.”
County commissioners decided to put the broadband committee meetings on hold “because we’re chewing through the money that the commissioners gave us to run this thing,” Lemmermann said. “And so we just thought let’s go into conservation mode and slow down for a minute.” Another round of grants is coming soon, called BEAD grants, and Gratiot ISPs might find those more to their liking.
Gratiot County residents and businesses who lack high speed internet are asked to visit the FCC website to challenge Point Broadband’s claims of 100 percent coverage.
If you’re interested in getting broadband but don’t know who provides service in your area, visit the FCC’s broadband map site where you will see a list of ISPs claiming to provide service at your address.
Enter your address on the FCC’s site and click on “Location Challenge” if the reported coverage is wrong.
The broadband committee will also promote the Affordable Connectivity Program for residents who do have broadband available but can’t afford it.