A new high speed internet provider is coming to the area. If you are looking for an alternative to Comcast (Xfinity), this won’t help. The super fast internet service is designed for rural underserved areas where providers like Comcast don’t operate. But all of us will share in this build out. Our tax dollars, billions of them, are financing this government program. Phase 1 of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) amounts to a government expenditure of $20.4 billion. It targets over 6 million homes and businesses that don’t have internet service of at least 25 Mbps. Currently, that download speed is at the low end of what Comcast offers at Clark Lake.
This map shows areas that will benefit. You can view the same map by clicking this link. Once there, run your mouse over locations for guidance on when the service might be available. If you believe you are in the service area, you can put your address in the form on the same page, to see if you qualify.
Midwest Energy and Communications (MEC) will install fiber-optic cables along the road in areas you see on the map. If a customer signs up for the service, the company will install a “drop” to the house. Two speeds are being offered–100 Mbps or 1 Gbps. That latter speed is extremely fast and isn’t currently available at Clark Lake. For context, one Eagle Point Road Comcast customer currently has 800 Mbps download, but only 25 Mbps upload. The new fiber to the house service will allow the same high speed for upload as download. Why isn’t this possible with Comcast at Clark Lake? It’s likely Comcast service arrives at Clark Lake neighborhoods via fiber, but the last few feet to the house go through copper wires, which potentially slows service.
One question has come up for potential MEC customers. If your house is in the government target zone, the connection fee is $100. If you live on the other side of the street but not within the target, the connection fee is $500. That’s because the huge government subsidy covers one side of the street, but not the other.
MEC intends to contact property owners via postcard if construction will affect them. If crews trench a cable in a property owner’s yard, MEC promises to restore the area within a few weeks of the construction. MEC offers this number for property owners to contact 800-492-5989.
Timing is affected by permitting factors. In addition to trenching the fiber-optic cables, some use utility poles, and those arrangements must be worked out as the project advances.
Recently, Frontier has been building a fiber-optic network that will reach about 5,000 customers in Columbia Township. Only a small portion of Clark Lake was included. Unlike MEC, that was not a government program. Frontier was helpful in providing information, but that did not include a map of of their new service, citing proprietary concerns. MEC has been more specific as you will see if you visit the map link. They also caution that plans could change over time.