The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

NMU officials: Broadband project can be national model

 

By RALPH ANSAMI

ransami@yourdailyglobe.com

MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University officials believe the effort to provide broadband internet access to rural communities across the Upper Peninsula could become a national model.

"Michigan and the U.P. can lead the way," NMU President Fritz Erickson said of the plan for the university to build an Educational Access Network across the U.P. over the next two years.

NMU will receive a $6.5 million Investment Fund Award from the Michigan Strategic Fund, matched by $3.2 million from the university.

The broadband plans were outlined to the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners recently by Don Salo and Eric Smith of NMU.

Smith echoed Erickson's optimism about the example the broadband expansion can set for the entire nation.

Commissioners and other Gogebic County officials pledged cooperation in locating sites to place the broadband receiving equipment.

The sites will be investigated throughout the western Upper Peninsula, with Watersmeet one of the first communities to express an interest.

The ultimate goal is to extend high-speed educational broadband access to 64 U.P. cities and townships over the next two years, with an emphasis on serving school districts. Every K-12 district in the U.P. should eventually have broadband through the system or another provider, if they choose.

Families from as far as nine miles from the site may subscribe for use from home, with the same filter system as students have in the school systems.

NMU plans to return a percentage of proceeds back to the Michigan Strategic Fund to repay the investment as it recovers its costs through selling subscriptions to the EAN.

The NMU goal is to have more than 50 course offerings in two years for lifelong learners.

EAN access is included in tuition for students in NMU's associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs.

Community members who take personal and professional development courses pay $34.95 per month for full access to the campus network, with no data caps or reduced speeds.

K-12, college and university partners will get full access to NMU LTE at school and home for $19.95 per month, with an optional speed upgrade for an extra $5 per month.

Access for all requires a one-time purchase of an NMU LTE mobile hot spot, an indoor stationary receiver or a mountable indoor/outdoor receiver.

 
 

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