SOUTHFIELD–123Net and Allegan County have been awarded a $65 million project to construct an open access, carrier neutral fiber network. This county-wide broadband project will begin construction in mid-August.
123Net officials also announced the company would be a key participant in a new $87.5 million middle mile fiber infrastructure project that adds resiliency to Michigan’s network and connects unserved and underserved areas.
The Allegan County Board of Commissioners and 123Net established a public-private partnership earlier this year and applied for the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant together. Now that the project has been awarded, 123Net will construct 1,100 miles of high-capacity fiber and provide connectivity to over 10,000 unserved and underserved homes across the county.
“Allegan County is leading the way in Michigan to get everyone connected to the internet,” said Jill Dunham, Allegan County’s nroadband project manager. “We are grateful to be part of one of the top-rated proposals submitted and appreciate the outstanding partnership with 123NET.”
123Net is investing $17.5 million toward the project, with additional funding coming from the ROBIN Grant and Allegan County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. Construction will be completed over the next two years. Business and residents in Allegan County can add their support for this project and sign up for updates at www.123.net/allegan-county/.
The middle mile project, meanwhile, is called the Infrastructure for Michigan’s Peninsula and Critical Crossings (IMPACC) project. It was submitted in September of last year with Peninsula Fiber Networks as the lead recipient and 123Net as a sub recipient.
“One of the many unique things about this project is the partnership between PFN and 123Net,: said 123Net CEO Dan Irvin. “Each will be responsible for owning and operating part of the network doubling the impact of the project for the state.”
One key aspect of the project is the installation of two new fiber cables that will be constructed under Lake Michigan to connect 123Net’s data center in Grand Rpaids to one of the nation’s premier connectivity hubs in Chicago.
“This will be the first carrier neutral fiber optic cable to be built across Lake Michigan,” Irvin said. “We expect it to dramatically increase access to and lower the cost of connectivity in the state. The route will enable diverse, low latency connections not just between Grand Rapids and Chicago but also Detroit and Chicago. The best part of all is every small, underserved community along the way will have access to the same world class network,”
The project also includes 535 miles of network passing though Berrien, Van Buren, Allegan, Lapeer, Macomb, St. Clair, and Genesee counties. The following municipalities are also included: Benton Harbor, Benton Heights, Byron Center, Dorr Township, Grand Junction, Hartford, Hopkins, Imlay City, Lapeer, Lawrence, Lesterville, Memphis, and St. Joseph.
Most of the funding for the project comes from a National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant. The rest of the project cost, about 30%, is being split between PFN and 123Net. “Internet connectivity is the backbone of Michigan’s economy, allowing businesses to thrive, connecting people to health care services and education providers, and helping people communicate locally and around the globe,” said PFN General Manager Scott Randall.
123Net will use this new middle mile network to directly serve residents and communities with its new FTTH (fiber to the home) builds and public private partnerships. In addition, 123Net will open the network as a platform to enable other FTTH providers to extend into rural Michigan and help solve the digital divide.
Counties, municipalities, ISPs, and carriers interested in connecting to this network can reach 123Net at www.123.net.