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Governor Granholm Takes Next Step to Expand Broadband Access

October 14, 2009

Comments submitted today supporting Recovery Act grant applications

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced an important step to implement her strategic initiative to expand access to broadband services to citizens and businesses throughout Michigan.   On Wednesday, the state submitted comments to the federal government on grant applications proposing to implement or enhance broadband service to Michigan communities.

The grants, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), are funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act).  States were provided the opportunity to comment on applications that meet the greatest broadband needs and provide the greatest possible benefits to their states.  The NTIA will review all applications submitted nationwide and determine which will receive funding.

"Five years ago, we announced a key strategic initiative in our efforts to diversify Michigan's economy:  extending high speed Internet access to every corner of the state," said Granholm.  "These Recovery Act dollars will allow us to build the broadband infrastructure necessary to connect every community and give access to faster, more reliable Internet service to citizens, businesses, units of government, schools and public safety providers from Marquette to Monroe and everywhere in between."

The Recovery Act made $7.2 billion available to two federal agencies to fund competitive grants and loans to improve broadband access in communities across the nation.  From this total, $4.7 billion will be awarded by the NTIA in grants for building broadband infrastructure, increasing public computer center capacity, funding sustainable broadband adoption programs, and implementing detailed state broadband mapping. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will use the remaining $2.5 billion to fund loans and grants to communities for expanding broadband infrastructure.  Funding by both agencies will be awarded through two rounds of competitive grants.

The state of Michigan worked with a team of statewide stakeholders to develop a framework for expanding broadband access in Michigan. The team identified four key project goals:

  • Expand and upgrade broadband service to unserved and underserved populations across the state;

  • Transform Michigan's economic competitiveness by making affordable broadband accessible to any business in the state;

  • Ensure a better, more efficient government for the 21st century;

  • Strengthen Michigan's ability to monitor borders and critical infrastructure.

The projects identified in the governor's letter to the NTIA as key to the implementation of the state's strategic goals would bring broadband access to 66 percent of current unserved households and 68 percent of unserved businesses across the state.  In announcing today's input, Granholm also reiterated the state's commitment to making access available to every citizen in the state.

"When we launched our broadband plan in 2004, we likened it to the effort 55 years ago to build a great bridge linking our two peninsulas.  Our broadband plan is every bit as transformational, allowing us to link every community in our state to economic opportunity," said Granholm.  "Broadband will be this generation's Mackinac Bridge."

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Attached is Governor Granholm's letter to Lawrence Strickling, U.S. Dept. of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information with comments on applications proposing to expand and enhance broadband internet services in Michigan.