BEAVER ISLAND-–Peninsula Fiber Network announced the kickoff of project plans for expanded broadband connectivity across Michigan, previewing project details this week to residents on Beaver Island.
PFN and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) officials visited Beaver Island Monday, meeting with stakeholders, visiting potential project sites and hosting a community luncheon where they previewed project plans, celebrated collective efforts to bring long-awaited broadband to the Island and discussed benefits for Island residents.
“PFN is excited to kick off the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure project to bring better and faster broadband infrastructure to some of the largest undeserved areas of our state,” said Peninsula Fiber Network General Manager Scott Randall. “Meeting with local officials and residents, like our partners on Beaver Island, is an important priority for us as we get this project underway.”
Beaver Island in Lake Michigan is home to approximately 600 year-around residents.
PFN’s NTIA Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure project will install broadband infrastructure in three areas across Michigan. The project includes routes that traverse Michigan’s lakes and unserved or underserved counties and towns, bringing much needed “middle mile” broadband infrastructure to improve the state’s broadband connectivity. “Middle mile” broadband infrastructure refers to the intermediate fiber optic connections that serve as the backbone of internet connectivity. Once installed, the connections allow for local service providers to bring access to homes and businesses.
PFN’s installation of an undersea fiber cable is significant for Beaver Island. It is the first time Beaver Island will be connected to a larger broadband network with a wired fiber connection. This undersea fiber will ensure Internet Service Providers have access to reliable and redundant middle mile infrastructure to serve the island residents.
“The connectivity that PFN will bring to Beaver Island will be a game-changer for our residents and business owners,” said Paul Cole, president of the Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce. “We appreciate that they visited us today and gathered our input for this groundbreaking project that will significantly increase service on our island.”
The roughly $87 million project includes a $61.2 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program. PFN and its partner 123.Net will match 30% of the grant funding by contributing $26 million in private funds toward the project.
The PFN project is part of President Biden’s “Internet for All” initiative, which made $1 billion in funding available to projects that connect high-speed internet networks to each other and reduce the cost of bringing internet service to communities that lack it. Peninsula Fiber Network’s grant will construct middle mile broadband routes in three locations across Michigan:
ROUTE 1: Lake Michigan Crossing – Chicago Connection
Installation of two underwater fiber optic cables from Benton Harbor to Chicago and a fiber optic connection on land from Benton Harbor to Byron Center.
ROUTE 2: Lake Michigan Crossing – Peninsula and Island Connection
This route will connect Michigan’s peninsulas with an underwater cable from the town of Gulliver near Manistique in the Upper Peninsula to Beaver Island and then underwater to Charlevoix in the Lower Peninsula, continuing with an on-land fiber optic connection from Charlevoix to Gaylord.
ROUTE 3: Port Huron to Flint
Fiber optic connections will be installed from Port Huron to Flint, serving unserved and underserved areas in Lapeer, Macomb, St. Clair, and Genesee counties.
Once the grant project is completed, PFN will offer wholesale broadband services at reasonable rates to any broadband service provider; including cellular and other wholesale carriers, and end-user providers that will utilize this middle mile infrastructure to provide broadband service to households in the nearby unserved and underserved areas.
Based in Marquette, Peninsula Fiber Network provides telecommunications, transport, and broadband services for governments, businesses, and other telecommunication companies. PFN also partners with the public safety community to provide Next Generation 911 services in Michigan and Wisconsin. Its fiber optic network extends through Michigan, Northern Wisconsin, into Canada, and in conjunction with our Indatel Network Consortium partners, PFN provides network access points across much of the United States. More information is available at www.pfnllc.net.