6/3/21 – Gov. Whitmer establishes office for high-speed internet

Governor Whtimer plans to improve Internet access especially for rural communities.

(Mlive) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday announced the creation of the new Michigan High-Speed Internet Office, which will aim to expand access to reliable, high-speed internet connections across the state. The announcement comes after more than a year of some Michiganders working or attending school remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement comes after more than a year of some Michiganders working or attending school remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“COVID-19 has only confirmed how the lack of high-speed internet access can cause too many Michiganders to struggle in their ability to engage in online learning, to use telemedicine to seek needed healthcare, to search for a new job or to take advantage of all the online resources,” Whitmer said in a press release.

“A fully connected Michigan is essential for our state to reach its economic potential in the 21st century global economy.”

Under a directive signed by the governor that creates the office, it is formed under the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. It will include a Chief Connectivity Officer.

An estimated 381,000 households in Michigan don’t have access to fixed broadband internet, defined as a connection with download speeds of 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 3 megabits per second by the Federal Communications Commission.

The Whitmer administration estimates 865,000 households are not connected due to other barriers, like the cost of an internet subscription, cost of a device, or lack of digital skills.
 

Whitmer previously formed a task force to work across state departments on internet connectivity efforts and also signed a grant program into law.

Whitmer also recently vetoed a bill that would have created a tax exemption for some broadband equipment.

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