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Web connection should be a 2021 priority

Reporters here at The Alpena News last week completed an exhaustive series on the availability of broadband technology across the region.

The series was both insightful and frightening, in that it revealed that, as a region, we are woefully behind other areas of the country for new technology use.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 6,700 homes in the four-county area of Alpena, Alcona, Presque Isle, and Montmorency counties lack the infrastructure for an internet connection that is reliable or fast enough for today’s world.

Specifically, the share of residents who lack a dependable connection is 8% in Alpena County, 38% in Alcona County, 33% in Presque Isle County, and 40% in Montmorency County.

Thankfully, there is some help on the way.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late October announced a $3.5 million grant to Allband Multimedia to develop a fixed wireless network to connect 3,678 people, 64 farms, 54 businesses, four educational facilities, and a post office to high-speed broadband internet across Alpena, Alcona, and Iosco counties.

And, while we celebrate that announcement, it is but a Band-Aid to a problem that really needs a tourniquet.

At a time when students have to do their class assignments through the internet and more doctors’ visits occur over the internet, having a critical broadband supply is more important than ever.

Developing a reliable internet network for everyone should be a high priority of government leaders in 2021.

— Alpena News

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