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Gov. Whitmer signs directive establishing the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office

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Posted at 2:47 PM, Jun 02, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — In an effort to make high-speed internet more accessible and affordable, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive directive to establish the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI).

The new office will focus on coordinating and advancing the state’s efforts to ensure that every home and business has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.

Michigan has hundreds of thousands of homes that have not been reached by high-speed internet infrastructure, according to the governor’s office. There are also an estimated 865,000 homes that are disconnected due to the cost of subscribing to service or purchasing an appropriate device, a lack of digital skills, or other related barriers.

The new MIHI will be housed inside the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity. MIHI will be responsible for developing Michigan’s high-speed internet strategy, as well as its funding and implementation.

Gov. Whitmer says the department will designate a chief connectivity officer to lead the office.

Communities of color, people living in rural areas and low-income households are disproportionately impacted by gaps in high-speed internet availability and affordability.

Back in October 2020, Whitmer announced the formation of the Connecting Michigan Taskforce, an interagency working group that has helped align the efforts related to high-speed internet access across state agencies and departments.

“Internet access is the most critical, enabling infrastructure that we can invest in. Whether you’re a student, an entrepreneur, a senior citizen, a farmer, a manufacturer, a job seeker, or any other Michigander, more opportunities and resources are available to you when you and your family are connected,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “There is bipartisan consensus that we need to close gaps in internet access and adoption. This is our generational opportunity to leverage the tremendous resources that are being made available at the federal level to develop the innovative partnerships that will achieve the goal of getting every home and business the high-speed connection they need.”

According to the governor’s office, more than $2.5 billion in potential economic benefit is left unrealized each year due to the digital divide.

Use the interactive broadband map below to explore high-speed internet availability across the state.

Those in need of internet access can use the Michigan WiFi Hotspots map below to find the nearest WiFi.

You can read the full executive directive here.