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Michigan high-speed internet infrastructure projects to be funded by US Treasury Department

Free internet lan modem image, public domain CC0 photo. / CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)
Free internet lan modem image, public domain CC0 photo.

The US Treasury Department is sending Michigan more than 250 million dollars to fund high-speed internet infrastructure projects. Officials say the pandemic underlined the vital need for reliable access to the internet.

The grant affects almost 68,000 households in Michigan. States competed for the funding from the American Rescue Plan to create projects that could help people cope during the pandemic.

White House senior advisor Gene Sperling says it’s clear that the internet is vital for those engaged in virtual learning, remote work, or tele-conferences with physicians.

“Without reliable affordable connectivity…we cannot really say we are providing equal educational or economic opportunity," Sperling said.

Michigan’s senior US Senator Debbie Stabenow says the pandemic revealed the digital divide between those who could, and could not, access the internet.

“A fourth grader couldn’t Zoom his virtual classroom…an office employee couldn’t do their virtual meetings and their work…and a senior couldn’t talk to their doctor through a tele-health visit. People were left behind," Stabenow said.

Officials say a significant portion of Detroit’s population has trouble affording internet service, and some rural areas of Michigan cannot access it.

Quinn Klinefelter is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, anchoring midday newscasts and preparing reports for WDET, NPR and the BBC. Klinefelter joined WDET in 1998 after earning a M.A. from the nation’s top-ranked journalism school, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and working as a sports correspondent for BBC Radio 4 and as a talk show host, anchor and reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio.