Providing resources for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan & Emmet Counties.


Broadband is a powerful, enabling technology that is fast becoming the engine of economic growth in America. Increasingly, businesses seeking to open or expand operations look to see not only whether a community has robust broadband access, but also whether potential workers have digital literacy skills and tools. The economic future of Michigan communities depends not only upon whether robust broadband infrastructure is present but also upon whether businesses and individuals fully utilize that technology to grow and develop local economies.

NLEA Broadband Fiber Consortium


The mission of the NLEA Broadband Fiber Consortium (NLEABFC) is to proliferate gigabit high-speed, reliable and cost effective broadband services throughout the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance region.

What is the Consortium?

NLEA is working collaboratively with Merit Network to provide access to the fiber backbone throughout the region to connect government buildings, public schools, public libraries, medical facilities, businesses, and communities in an efficient, cost-effective manner. The NLEABFC facilitates a communication network to promote the development of inter- governmental, educational, medical and business opportunities which will provide a conduit to support community goals guided by the mission of all participating members.

What are the Benefits?

Benefits of joining the NLEAFBC include network connectivity, discounted pricing, enhanced collaboration, regional cooperation, and aggregate bandwidth. The consortium promotes partnerships and alliances within the region to advance economic development for both the private and public sectors.

Eligible Members:

  • Counties, Cities, Villages, and Townships
  • Community Colleges

  • Public Libraries
  • Public Schools
  • Health Systems including Behavioral Health
  • Underserved Private Businesses
  • Business Parks

Consortium Vision:

  • Unite and share regional resources and build a foundation of cooperation for potential opportunities in the area of internet, voice, and data.
  • Increase the region’s ability to purchase of service and equipment through leveraging membership buying power.
  • To promote partnerships and alliances to advance the community in economic development.

 The NLEABFC will continue to use the research, data, and models created to provide the support, expertise, and clarity it needs to fulfill the consortium’s mission of increasing the access to broadband Internet throughout the region.

NLEA Broadband Fiber Consortium Brochure

For more information contact Buck Love at 231-582-6482 or

“Just two weeks ago we became one of the first 100 homes to be connected to the new high speed fiber internet provided by Truestream and Great Lakes Energy. NLEA helped make this happen.” – Anne & Brian Bates, Bear Creek Organic Farm, 2019

2017 Summer Intern Broadband Internet Project

Thanks to funding from the DTE Energy Foundation the NLEA was able to hire two interns to work on bringing awareness to the regional demand for broadband Internet. The Broadband Internet Project involved developing survey coverage models in the NLEA 4-county region. The models demonstrate where the greatest demand for each community is. Research was also conducted to find possible ways these communities can connect their businesses, schools, public libraries, government buildings, and medical facilities in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The models include detailed maps with options to filter and analyze everything from current ISPs, per month cost, desire for new and improved Internet, and how more accessible internet would be utilized.

The coverage models were developed by surveying the current availability, usage, cost, needs, and anticipated future demand of businesses, schools, public libraries, government and medical facilities, and households in the area. Based on the identified existing and future demand for Internet, layered maps were created using ArcGIS, a global information mapping software, to demonstrate how existing fiber pathways can be utilized and complemented with smart fiber expansions, both underground and aerially, to reach existing towers and equipment that can provide a strong and fast connection to the end users, including possible options for future expansion to residents in outlying rural areas.

After the surveying and mapping processes were complete, the results were presented to 9 different areas (i.e. counties, townships, and villages) and discussed potential installation and funding options with interested participants from each community.




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