Excellent article by Community Networks on the upcoming vote for broadband happening in Lyndon Township.
In August, voters in Lyndon Township, Michigan, will decide whether or not they want to approve a plan to invest in publicly owned fiber optic Internet infrastructure.
Article detailing rural residents’ frustrating search for high-speed Internet access was recently published in the Summer 2017 Community Observer. Find the article online here
LYNDON TOWNSHIP, Michigan – June 1, 2017 – On May 9, following strong support from residents, the Lyndon Township Board unanimously approved ballot language for a bond proposal to fund construction of a fiber optic broadband network serving every home in Lyndon Township. This initiative would bring 21st century internet access to all Lyndon Township residents. The proposal will appear on the August 8, 2017 election, and the bond will be backed by a 20-year millage. If approved, the average annual millage rate to retire the bonds is estimated at 2.9102 mills ($2.9102 per thousand of taxable value).
If Lyndon voters approve the bond proposal, Lyndon Township will proceed with construction of the fiber optic network infrastructure, bringing a fiber connection to every home in the township. Based on currently available taxable valuation data for Lyndon Township, the average cost per property owner for this construction will be about $21.92 per month. Once completed, the township will then partner with one or more private service providers to deliver Internet access to residents. Estimated monthly costs for basic Internet access will be about $35. This internet service will provide an estimated speed of 100Mb, with no caps on data usage, and access speeds will not be throttled back for heavy users. The average combined cost of the millage for infrastructure and monthly fee for service will be about $57 per month. It is anticipated that if funded, Lyndon’s internet service will be up and running by December, 2018.
Lyndon Township, like many townships in Western Washtenaw County, is significantly underserved in regard to broadband. This is because population densities are too low to support the return on investment required by corporate providers. This can come as a surprise to residents from nearby areas that are well served by broadband, and who take their speedy, reliable internet access for granted. “Our friends from Ann Arbor find it unbelievable that at our house it takes many hours – overnight, actually – to simply update our Windows operating system. Sometimes, longer than that, when we lose our internet connection along the way.” said Lyndon resident Jo Ann Munce. “People we know here in Lyndon have caps on the amount of data they’re able to use, so they’re not even able to perform a software update without paying for additional data. Then, if they want to do anything else on the internet that month, they have to buy even MORE data. It can get really expensive very quickly,” Munce continued.
Broadband is increasingly important for full participation in 21st century society. Maribeth Hammer, a Lyndon Township resident, described the situation: “We live in Washtenaw County, within twenty miles of the University of Michigan, seven miles from downtown Chelsea and cannot get a high-speed internet connection. My husband has to drive to the Chelsea District Library to complete many of his work requirements, as well as my children with their college and job-hunting connection needs.”
Lyndon residents who would like to know more about this project are encouraged to attend informational meetings scheduled for Wednesday, June 21 and Thursday, July 20. These meetings will be held at the Lyndon Township Hall, 17751 N. Territorial, at 7:00 p.m. both evenings. You can also find a FAQ here
FCC released a new map that demonstrates the broadband issues in Washtenaw County. You’ll notice that in the demographics picture they mention that in rural Washtenaw County 29.98% of the population have no fixed broadband. For more information click here
The Manchester Mirror postsed a very nice article about the efforts to bring broadband to rural Manchester. To read more click here
I’m looking forward to meeting with the residents and board of Manchester Township tonight. Here is the slide deck that we will discuss.
The Sharon Township feasibility study performed by CCG Consulting has been completed. The final report is available here.
The Michigan Broadband Cooperative is pleased to share info about bi-partisan House Bill 4162 to improve broadband access in unserved parts of Michigan. This bill would provide an important tool for townships who are partially served by broadband, but have areas that are too rural to get coverage from traditional service providers. Use of special assessment districts would allow infrastructure builds in these areas to be funded by the residents who would specifically benefit from the network, which could then be operated through public-private partnerships. To read more click here
Sharon Township has been working with CCG Consulting to conduct a feasibility study for broadband to all homes in the township. Yesterday (Feb 7, 2017), the president of CCG Consulting traveled from Florida to the Sharon Township Hall to discuss the preliminary results of the study. While the final results are not yet available, the preliminary results are very positive, and outline a number of viable options for the township. All of the options would be funded by a bond and a millage, but some models include reducing annual millage payments or the overall length of the millage by using revenue from monthly service fees. The most advantageous model proposed is that of a cohesive service operated across multiple townships under a cooperative or similar structure. Toward this goal, representatives from neighboring townships were invited to the meeting, and attendance included not only Sharon Township but also Lyndon, Dexter, Webster, Manchester, Sylvan, and Ann Arbor Townships, as well as several board members from the Michigan Broadband Cooperative. The finalized results of the Sharon Township study should be available in about two weeks.