U.S. Treasury approves funding to build more high-speed, affordable internet in Michigan
Federal funding from the American Rescue Plan was approved by the U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday to bring more high-speed internet to Michigan.
The $250 million are projected to bring affordable high-speed internet to nearly 68,000 residents across the state. The funds will help service providers create new broadband infrastructure and lay fiberoptic cable.
One of the conditions of the funding is for providers to enroll in the Federal Communications Commission's internet affordability program that offers discounts to low-income people.
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow said during a press conference that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the conversation over how Americans define access to the internet.
"Whether it’s rural or urban and filling the wholes and sort of getting mixed reviews about whether its infrastructure—that debate changed. It is infrastructure. It is part of equity and opportunity," said Stabenow.
Federal officials said the funding is one-time money and cannot be used to pay down municipal debt for broadband projects that have already been built.
Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee also attended Thursday’s press conference with several state and federal officials. He said this legislation is a big deal for mid-Michigan.
"For decades, we’ve been competing in a 21st century economy in some places with 19th century infrastructure while our competitors, China for example, have been outspending on these essential aspects of society," said Kildee.