Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) was awarded funding to bring high-speed broadband internet to nearly 7,000 unserved and underserved addresses in rural southwest Michigan. MEC applied for a grant through Michigan's Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) program.
In Michigan, the state defines “unserved and underserved” as addresses that do not currently have internet speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps. For individuals, that often means traveling to another location to work and learn remotely. For businesses, it means not being able to compete in the marketplace.
As part of the build-up, MEC will also offer service to nearby residents and businesses with high-speed internet access. MEC will bring fiber-to-the-premises services to over 15,000 new individuals by the end of 2026.
According to MEC’s website, the provider currently offers fiber-based broadband services ranging from speeds as low as 100 Mbps up to 5 Gbps for consumers and businesses.
MEC plans to contribute $15.8 million to the project, and the State will contribute about $25.3 million. The company also partnered with Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties and dozens of townships in Berrien, Cass, Van Buren, and St. Joseph Counties on matching contributions totaling nearly $12 million.
Bob Hance, president and CEO of MEC, said that local community support is integral to its broadband strategy. “We could not have done this without the support of local townships and county governments,” he said. “These individuals share our vision of creating vibrant, relevant, and sustainable rural communities, and they worked tirelessly to secure financial commitments to help make high-speed broadband a reality in their areas.”