Fiber Internet Service Reaches 30,000 Homes in Northeast Michigan

Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-op and Merit Network provide fiber optic Internet service to more than 30,000 homes in northeast Michigan. // Image bank

Gigabit broadband internet service is coming to Northeast Michigan due to a community broadband expansion effort by Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-op based in Presque Isle County, in partnership with Merit Network based in Ann Arbor.

The cooperative intends to launch multi-year fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network projects, providing access to Internet and voice services to more than 30,000 homes and businesses in its northern territory. eastern Michigan including Alpena, Cheboygan, Montmorency, Presque Isle and parts of Alcona, Emmet, Mackinac, Oscoda and Ostego counties.

The fiber system will be installed over PIE & G’s existing power distribution infrastructure and will connect to Merit Network’s existing high-performance fiber-optic infrastructure to provide the service. Merit was recently awarded a 5-year contract to provide 10 Gbps backhaul service to power the network.

This network expansion is funded through an $ 11 million grant from the Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF). The expansion works have already started and are expected to be completed in 2026.

“By successfully leveraging the RDOF program, PIE & G is making great strides for the communities they serve. Connecting affordable and robust mid-mile infrastructure to last mile networks is a critical part of implementing Merit’s statewide goal of providing high-speed fiber internet access. equal and affordable look to all who need it, regardless of where they live, ”said Charlotte Bewersdorff, vice president of engagement. to the Merit Network.

Some expected benefits of broadband service include e-learning capabilities, opportunities to participate in telemedicine, working from home, improved personal communications, and the potential for economic growth and development in rural areas.

“Our new fiber division will provide our members with a modern future that is still firmly anchored in what makes our cooperative and rural service territory unique,” ​​said Tom Sobeck, CEO of PIE & G. “We made history by bringing electricity and ‘lights’ to local farmers and small towns in rural northeast Michigan in 1937, and natural gas in 1994, and we’re doing it again with the fiber.

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