© 2024 WNMU-FM
Upper Great Lakes News, Music, and Arts & Culture
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist joins MI Connected Future listening tour in Marquette

Nicole Walton

MARQUETTE, MI— Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and stakeholders in expanding high-speed internet in Michigan met at Northern Michigan University Saturday morning to generate ideas on how to improve connectivity for residents.

It was the 11th stop of the 40-community MI Connected Future listening tour undertaken by the Michigan High Speed Internet Office.

The state will receive $1.6 billion federal dollars to deliver affordable, equitable and reliable high-speed internet service throughout Michigan. This investment is made available through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

One in six Michigan homes don't have internet access. The digital divide discriminates by income, age, education level, and race.

Officials want to know what residents consider the biggest barriers to getting high-speed internet. Attendees of the Saturday group work session indicated availability and affordability were the biggest factors in the Upper Peninsula digital divide, followed by a lack of digital skills.

The Lt. Gov. says the U.P. is at the forefront of expanding internet access in Michigan.

“One, because there’s so much opportunity for more people who my not have really adequate internet access or any internet access to get it in the Upper Peninsula, but also because when we solve the sort of specific challenges that exist here and across rural Michigan, those are solutions that can translate to communities across the state of Michigan.”

Officials say they will use the input collected on the listening tour, craft a Five-Year Action Plan and Michigan Digital Equity Plan, and come back to residents to see what they think.

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.