Connect Michigan, MPSC In New Push For Broadband
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In a state where millions still don’t subscribe to broadband, a new effort is under way to expand access to the essential utility of the information age.
Connect Michigan and the Michigan Public Service Commission convened the first Collaborative Broadband Committee meeting Thursday in Lansing.
The CBC was established to maximize Michigan’s efforts to expand vital broadband in its communities. The CBC is a group of representatives from K-12 education, higher education, healthcare, broadband service providers, non-profits, tourism, business, agriculture, government, and other organizations that have an interest in improving Michigan’s broadband availability and adoption. The group will meet quarterly and will work with the MPSC and Connect Michigan to provide guidance and solutions to broadband challenges.
During the inaugural meeting today, MPSC Chairman Orjiakor Isiogu emphasized the need to bolster Michigan’s broadband capacity in today’s knowledge economy.
“A wide variety of Michigan businesses and organizations depend on broadband services to conduct everyday business,” said Isiogu. “Joining forces with such groups makes sense as Michigan seeks to maximize economic development opportunities for job creators. The addition of these groups to the efforts of the MPSC and Connect Michigan will help expand opportunities for broadband service in Michigan.”
A report by Connect Michigan released in February shows businesses with a broadband connection are likely to generate more revenue and jobs. Michigan businesses with high-speed Internet connections report having median annual revenues $200,000 more than businesses without broadband.
In 2010, the Connect Michigan Residential Technology Assessment revealed that close to 2.5 million residents did not subscribe to broadband service — the modern lifeline to quality jobs, information, and vital education and healthcare services.
“The Connect Michigan research demonstrates the importance of access, adoption, and meaningful use of broadband,” said Mark McElroy, chief strategy officer for Connected Nation, Connect Michigan’s parent organization. “The Connect Michigan Collaborative Broadband Committee is to be commended for its commitment to practical solutions for Michigan communities.”
Phillip Brown, director of government affairs and advocacy for Connected Nation, updated the CBC on a statewide planning report that will be released on June 30. This milestone report will give an in-depth assessment of Michigan’s broadband landscape.
In 2009, Connect Michigan partnered with the Michigan Public Service Commission to engage in a comprehensive broadband planning and technology initiative. The program began by gathering provider data to form a statewide broadband map, and has progressed to the planning and development phase. Currently the initiative is expanding to spur community engagement in local technology, and is implementing projects designed to address digital literacy, improve education, provide access to global Internet resources, and stimulate economic recovery.
A public-private partnership, Connect Michigan partners with technology-minded businesses, government entities and universities to accelerate technology in the state. The work of Connect Michigan is made possible by support from the Michigan Public Service Commission. For more information about what Connect Michigan is doing to accelerate technology in Michigan’s communities, visit www.connectmi.org.