Thanks to a DTE Energy Foundation Grant, Brad Berkau, a recent Michigan State University graduate, and Ross Hooley, a junior at Xavier University, completed a project regarding broadband usage and availability in the rural areas of the NLEA 4-county region. This project focused on broadband and fiber research, analyzing survey data, and creating coverage models based on the area’s internet availability, speed, and price.
The NLEA organized and managed the broadband internet project after receiving a grant from the DTE Energy Foundation, fulling funding the project. Brad and Ross developed coverage models that were developed by surveying the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) available, usage, cost, desire for new and improved internet, how faster and more reliable internet would be utilized, current needs, and the anticipated future demand of businesses, governmental entities, schools, and households in rural areas. The models created helped demonstrate which areas suffer from poor connectivity, where the greatest demand for improved internet coverage is, and how to install fiber, both underground and aerially, or use existing fiber to provide broadband access to the end user. The research, analysis, and mapping of the survey data will be used to connect businesses, schools, public libraries, government buildings, and medical facilities in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
After the research, surveying, and map development were complete, results were presented to various local units of government to present the research completed and data collected. This data will also be used by the NLEA Broadband Fiber Consortium in their efforts to connect Northwest Michigan through affordable, fast, and reliable broadband internet. More information along with an interactive GIS map can be found by clicking here.