What are your thoughts about the Michigan, BEAD five-year action plan?

  • What are your thoughts about the Michigan, BEAD five-year action plan?

    Posted by DrRon Suarez on September 25, 2023 at 10:56 am

    All of your thoughts are welcome here, but as a Latinx person, I have a particular interest in getting more knowledge about the future for Latinx populations, with respect to Internet access in Michigan.

    Open Access & Hispanics

    A search of the 128 page document for “open access” returns a single result on page 36, which is simply an indication that an open access, middle mile network from Merit can provide backhaul connectivity in many underserved and underserved areas of the state. We will begin by approaching community stakeholders about access for the Hispanic community in Oceana County. According to the US census: Oceana County is 14.4% Hispanic, which is 3,762 people. The county has the largest percentage of Hispanics of any county in Michigan. The size, while small, might be a great place to start with engaging community stakeholders to utilize open access for creating affordable access that will be long lasting, by implementing systemic innovation, such as Community Owned Internet Networks (COIN). We have begun conversations with Will Luchin at Merit with respect to getting a backhaul from them. And we will need to approach John Winfrey, who covers counties in West Michigan, including Oceana. For Oceana County Merit has presence in Hart, Pentwater, and New Era.

    Prospective partners

    The Community Foundation for Oceana County was selected by the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) to participate in the Rural Economic Development Cohort initiative…. MAJOR ASSESSMENT THEMES – Pentwater Area: … 4. INTERNET: Need affordable, reliable high-speed internet access, also providing new opportunities for people of all ages to work from home.

    About Merit

    Merit Network, Inc. is an independent nonprofit corporation governed by Michigan’s public universities. Founded in 1966, Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. After 50 years of innovation, Merit continues to provide high-performance services to the educational communities in Michigan and beyond.

    Merit continues to leverage its experience managing NSFNET, the precursor to the modern Internet, to catapult Michigan into the forefront of networking technologies.

    DrRon Suarez replied 5 months, 1 week ago 1 Member · 1 Reply
  • 1 Reply
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    DrRon Suarez

    September 25, 2023 at 1:34 pm

    Possible restrictions in Michigan law: there are some questions about municipal broadband. However, research should help us determine if these restrictions affect the ability of community stakeholders to form a cooperative, that is not officially part of the municipal government.

    We asked our AI chat bot

    In Michigan, the primary restriction on municipal broadband is codified in the “Uniform Video Services Local Franchise Act” from 2006, known as Public Act 480. The language of the law effectively restricts municipalities from providing telecommunications services directly to the public for a fee.

    Specifically, the law states:

    • A municipality shall not provide to the public a telecommunications service, directly or indirectly, for a fee unless all of the following requirements are met:

      1. Public Hearing: Before providing the telecommunications service, the municipality holds public hearings on the matter.

      2. Existing Service Providers: There is no existing private provider of the telecommunications service to the public or area that the municipality intends to serve.

      3. Fee and Costs: The cost of providing the telecommunications service does not exceed the revenue derived from the service, excluding any indirect or in-kind contributions to the cost, including but not limited to any contribution to the cost from the general fund of the municipality, a grant, a gift, or a low-interest loan.

      4. No Cross-subsidization: The financial operations of the telecommunications service, including but not limited to the investment in and the cost of maintaining and operating the infrastructure of the telecommunications service, are separate from the other operations of the municipality.

    The law puts significant obstacles in the path of municipalities seeking to establish their broadband service:

    • It’s challenging for municipalities to initiate a project if any private provider offers service in the intended area, even if that service is subpar or expensive.

    • Financial restrictions require municipalities to demonstrate that revenues from the service will cover all costs. This can be challenging in the early phases of a project when capital costs are high.

    The underlying motivation behind these regulations likely stems from the desire to protect private-sector competition and reduce potential financial risks to municipalities. However, critics argue that such restrictions hinder local autonomy and the ability of municipalities to address broadband needs in underserved or unserved areas.

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