Michigan’s urban and rural community members voice concerns about affordability and access to reliable high-speed internet

On Wednesday, Governor Whitmer announced a new state office to expand access to high-speed internet to every corner of the state
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 10:27 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (06/02/2021) - At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, people were forced to rely on the internet just to get by: working from home, online learning, and keeping up with loved ones while stuck at home.

However, for many parts of the state, the high-speed internet they needed to make that happen wasn’t available.

On Wednesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she’s doing something about it, creating a new state office to expand access to every corner in Michigan.

Some of the ongoing issues facing urban and rural communities include affordability and access.

With a cost-saving bundle including tv, phone, and internet, Brittny Giles struggled getting all four of her young children learning online without any technical issues.

“When you did get on with the teachers, the internet was so slow that the teacher’s face would show up, but then it would just stop,” Giles said.

The problems continued for another few months until Giles upgraded her Internet plan. Now, her high-speed plan can support all of her children on their devices until the end of the school year in mid-June, but at almost $150 per month, it’s cutting into her money dedicated to other expenses like gas money and activities for her kids.

”I think it’s highly unfair that I have to pay extra just to get the speed that my kids need to be in class. I’m a single mother. I have four kids. I’m doing it all on my own, and paying 150 dollars a month just for them to have internet, it’s not really fair,” Giles said.

On Wednesday, Governor Whitmer announced the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office, using COVID-19 relief money to make sure every Michigan home and business gets high-speed internet they need at a price they can pay.

”I’m sure as they build and expand, eventually, we’ll get it, but I’m sure it’s going to be rather slow getting up this way, but it will be very welcomed,” Mark Heberling said.

Heberling lives in Sanilac County, where just half of households have access to speeds necessary to perform basic functions like checking your e-mail or browsing the web.

”7:30, 8:00, it gets slow. I mean it’s hard to download different items on there. Like if you want to watch a news item, it’s very hard to get,” Heberling said.

Heberling is hoping the plan will bring better access to rural areas, so he can do things in modern life like video streaming and video chatting with family members out of state.

The Governor did not announce a timeline for extending high-speed service to all parts of Michigan on Wednesday.

Stick with ABC12 for updates.

Copyright 2021 WJRT. All rights reserved.