The FCC initiated the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to help bring broadband internet service to rural and under-served areas of the United States. For additional information on this initiative visit FCC.gov, search RDOF.
The RDOF auction pays internet service providers to go into rural, underserved areas and build out internet infrastructure. The Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG) won our area in an FCC auction late last year. AEG is performing the engineering work for our area this year and hopes to complete the actual buildout sometime next year. Highline, which is the service arm of AEG, will bring the internet service into the home and service the accounts. This is exciting news as they will be delivering fiber optic broadband, which is the gold-standard in internet, to most of Watersmeet Township*!
Here are some of the specifics:
- Buildout to be started in Spring 2022 (depending on weather conditions)
- Speeds to be up to 1 gigabyte per second download and up to 500 megabytes per second upload
- No data caps
- Set-up fee of approximately $99
- Service pricing to be around $99/month which includes a modem/router
- $29/month additional for a digital phone line may also be available
The introduction of real, legitimate broadband opens a seemingly endless array of possibilities. Here are just a few options that come to mind:
- Ability to finally work and live up north
- Never walk into a cold cabin again with a wi-fi thermostat
- Ditch satellite tv and that ugly dish and stream for half the cost
- Surveillance and security for unattended cabins
- Unlimited kitten and puppy videos
Representative Jack Bergman (he lives on the Cisco Chain) has been instrumental in getting our area prioritized in AEG/Highline’s buildout schedule. Many thanks also go to the Watersmeet Broadband Task Force which includes Dan Hance, John Oliver, Bob McGuffin, Greg Clark, and Yvonne Clark, Watersmeet Trustee.
Here’s how YOU can help make faster reliable internet happen quicker – Highline and the Watersmeet Task Force is asking every Michigan property owner to go to the HighlineFast web page and enter your property address. If your address does not appear in the drop-down list, it may help to leave off the leading letter in your address. For example: 3928 instead of N3928. (If it still does not appear, select an address closest to you and you can correct the information when Highline contacts you.) By entering your address you are letting Highline know you are interested in their service. It is not a commitment to subscribe to their service. You do not need to enter any credit card information. The more properties that express interest, the higher we will move up on their build out schedule. Right now, their website indicates that we are scheduled to be fully operable in 2023, but Highline representatives have indicated that they expect Watersmeet to be completed in 2022!
After signing up, you may be contacted by Highline to confirm your address and/or to request a $25 deposit (which will be deducted from the $99 set-up fee) to confirm your commitment in installing internet service. This deposit assures service and may also prioritize installation. Installation fees this low are likely predicated on scheduling the installation crew and fiber optic runs to the homes for these advanced service commitments for the initial service offering. It is expensive to deploy/bury fiber optic cable, installation costs would likely increase once crews leave our area. Highline has an aggressive deployment schedule across the UP.
Improving internet service to all of Watersmeet has been an important issue for many years. It is vital to our economic growth. Please take a few minutes to log onto the website and help our community.
*It is possible that not ALL residences/businesses in the Watersmeet Township are included in the RDOF auction results area. That is why it is SO IMPORTANT for all residents to sign up on the Highline web site. Highline has indicated that if enough residents in these areas sign-up for interest they may be able to include service to these “edge areas” during the initial installation phase. The only way they will know that you are interested is for you to SIGN UP!
Visit Highline’s website for addition information (https://highlinefast.com/internet) and local area updates (https://highlinefast.com/area-updates). Highline Internet is also available on Facebook or call them at 888.212.0054.
Highline will also be advertising for employment of surveyors, construction, technicians, and customer service representatives at competitive wages. They are looking to build a local Highline Team. Call or apply on-line at https://highlinefast.com/job-opportunities.
If you have any questions, please email Yvonne Clark, Watersmeet Trustee at firstname.lastname@example.org .