By Ralph Echtinaw
Time is running out for Gratiot County residents to challenge an internet service provider’s assertion that it covers the whole county with high speed internet service.
Point Broadband filed a map with the Federal Communications Commission last year claiming that it provides high speed internet to the whole county. And that jeopardizes the ability of other ISPs serving Gratiot County to get federal grants to extend high speed internet to rural areas.
Residents whose experience belies Point Broadband’s claim are asked to visit this FCC web site to contest it.
Pine River Township resident Mark Bunce has already filed his complaint. “I live on Gruett Road, and the service has gone downhill since Point Broadband bought Casair. I was told this fall that the lower frequency antennas that can see thru the tree foliage is being discontinued to a newer point to point system,” he wrote while commenting on a Sentinel story. “The installers have been to my house and can’t get a signal on the new equipment. They are the only service that I can use because of trees and hills. If they turn off the flat panels, I will loose all internet unless I put up a 60-foot tower.”
ISPs in Gratiot County will not be eligible for a piece of $250 million in federal funds that will be distributed to ISPs that serve rural areas of Michigan if the current map isn’t successfully challenged. The deadline to get your two cents in is Jan. 13.
“Since high-speed internet is not accessible to many rural businesses and homes in Gratiot County, it is important that all citizens and businesses check their home and/or business addresses on the broadband map to ensure it accurately reflects their level of internet access,” said Matt Hewitt, the county’s information technology director in a press release.
“Once maps are successfully challenged and corrected, the amended areas can become eligible for federal funding given to the states to construct or upgrade new areas of Internet service,” Hewitt continued.
If residents lack internet access, Gratiot County encourages them to use local libraries and their public-use computers to file a possible challenge. A public workstation is also available for use for this purpose on the first floor of the Gratiot County Courthouse near the information technology office.
Watch this YouTube video to see how the challenge process works.
If there is high speed internet I’d like to be signed up by Jan. 13. I know that’s not going to happen anytime this year.