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Biden Administration Awards $10M to Expand High-Speed Internet Infrastructure in Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
June 27, 2022

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WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it has awarded Michigan State University over $10 million from the Broadband Infrastructure Program, part of the Administration’s Internet for All initiative. NTIA’s Special Representative for Broadband Andy Berke and Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist will congratulate awardees at an event in East Lansing, Michigan.

The grant, totaling $10.5 million, will fund middle mile fiber infrastructure expansion in partnership with last mile internet service providers in the state of Michigan. The project will take place in 74 counties, enabling a total of 103 access points with almost 70,000 census blocks and over 120,000 unserved locations. This effort will provide 16,499 unserved households across the state with high-speed internet that is more reliable and affordable, allowing them to more easily access the digital space for business, education, and entertainment.

“All across the country we are expanding internet access to those who truly need it by funding critical broadband infrastructure deployment projects. This award is another example of the Biden administration’s commitment to closing the digital divide,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “We are excited to award Michigan State University grant funding as we work together to deploy essential broadband infrastructure and connect thousands of Michiganders to affordable, high-speed internet.” 

This is the final award from the Broadband Infrastructure Program.  The program granted a total of 14 awards totaling more than $288 million in funding. These awards are part of the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government effort to connect everyone in America with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.  For more information on other awards please visit the Broadband Infrastructure Program Awardees page.

“Every Michigander deserves access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet that meets their needs,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Today’s investment into the Michigan Open Optical Network, a collaboration between MSU and Merit, will connect families and small businesses in unserved and underserved communities across Michigan to high-speed internet so they can get online and access the information and resources they need to thrive. Since I took office, we have made bipartisan investments to expand high-speed internet to more than 18,000 homes and small businesses and set ambitious, attainable goals to provide 100% access to high-speed internet and 95% adoption over the next five years. Earlier this year, we invested $249 million under the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan to connect even more Michiganders to the internet. I will work with anyone to expand high-speed internet access and I am grateful for the efforts and partnership of countless organizations across our state including MSU and Merit who continue to get things done in this space.”

The Broadband Infrastructure Program, which was funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act,  was designed to support broadband infrastructure deployment in underserved areas, especially rural areas.  NTIA thoroughly and objectively reviewed applications using a three-stage process: Initial Administrative and Eligibility Review of Complete Application Packets, Merit Review, and Programmatic Review. Reviewers evaluated applications according to the criteria provided in Section V of the Notice of Funding Opportunity.  

“With access to affordable, high-speed internet as our tool, we can connect Michiganders to opportunity,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “We can uplift communities, grow our economy, and boost access to education and healthcare. I am proud to join Michigan State University and Merit to announce the Michigan Open Optical Network, a project that will close connectivity gaps and connect underserved communities to reliable high-speed internet. Governor Whitmer and I are committed to expanding access to high-speed internet in Michigan through Michigan’s High-Speed Internet Office and recent Building Michigan Together plan investments, which connected tens of thousands of families and small businesses. We will continue working with anyone to connect Michigan families and small businesses, grow our economy, and create real change.”  

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand high-speed internet to communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed internet grant programs funded by the law that will build internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities. 

More information about federal high-speed internet funding can be found at InternetforAll.gov.  

Applicant Location Type of Project Funding Amount Brief Description
Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan Broadband Deployment $10,500,000

The MOON-Light project combines middle mile fiber broadband expansion with engagement of last mile broadband providers in the state of Michigan. In the 74 counties where Merit/MOON-Light would have a presence, MOON-Light would enable a total of 103 access points with almost 70,000 census blocks and over 120,000 unserved locations.  

Merit has secured Letters of Intent from three last-mile service providers which have been provided. MOON-Light will enable broadband service in their territories to at least 16,499 unserved households.  Merit identified only those households indicated by FCC 477 data, which are by definition fully unserved within per provider counts. 

This application was submitted by Michigan State University who has entered into an eligible covered partnership with Merit Network, Inc. to accomplish the project.  Since 2018, MSU and Merit have coordinated a state broadband framework (Michigan Moonshot) directly with the governor’s office and the Michigan Department of Economic Development.