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Ingham County considers task force to address digital divide

Ingham County Commission looking at ways to address digital divide
Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 08, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Access to broadband service is an issue that many communities across the country struggle with, Now Ingham County officials are taking steps to find out how the county can bridge the digital divide.

County leaders are earmarking about $50,000 for the creation of a task force to study how to improve connectivity in the area.

County Commissioner Mark Polsdofer says federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan are giving leaders the financial backing they need to fill the gaps that were highlighted during the pandemic.

“It's access to healthcare and quality schools. There’s just so many things that make this one-time shot with getting broadband right," said Polsdofer.

According to U.S. Census data from 2019, many of the county’s 290,000 residents face challenges related to broadband service and access to technology.

Connected Nation Michigan’s Eric Frederick says other areas of the state are facing similar challenges when it comes to improving broadband service.

“I think Ingham County falls into a category a lot of other counties in the state are in that they have a large city center, then lots of smaller towns then rural areas. Once you start moving off from those urban and suburban areas broadband service falls of pretty quickly," Frederick said.

The county is expected to put together the task force in the coming weeks.

Polsdofer says the group will be made up of stakeholders from the community.

“It will be two members of the county commission, it will also have folks from Lansing community college, Michigan State University, the Capital Area district library as well as someone from the Lansing Area Economic Partnership," said Polsdofer.

While this improvement plan is still in the beginning stages, Frederick says Michigan will see lots of money going toward this issue in the coming years.

“Michigan could see upwards of a billion dollars from the federal government to be invested over the next 6-10 years. With a lot of it starting in earnest over the next 18 to 24 months," said Frederick

The County Commission is set to vote on creating the task force on Tuesday.

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