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Blog // Connect Michigan

Broadband Helps Local Farmers

By Chris McGovern

It’s June, and that means the start of summer. Around here, that equals the end of classes, evenings on the lake, and the return of the summer farmers market.  Even though the county’s open air market feels like it’s a thousand miles from technology, local farmers are still benefiting from the ability to use broadband to grow, advertise, and sell their wares. The entire agricultural sector benefits from the access and usage of broadband service. In May, a Hudson Institute report noted that rural broadband services supported over $100 billion in e-commerce and nearly 70,000 jobs in 2015.  While that figure includes e-commerce from a...

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USDA Accepting Applications for $11M in Grants To Further Broadband to Rural Communities

By Amanda Murphy

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for grants through its Community Connect program. This program helps fund broadband access in unserved communities and is administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. More than $11 million in grants will be awarded for broadband infrastructure, as well as broadband for community centers and public institutions. For 2016, the minimum grant amount will be $100,000, and the maximum is $3 million. For more information on the application process for the grants, see the April 18, 2016 Federal Register. Read the news release distributed by the USDA on April 18, 2016.

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FCC Approves Broadband Consumer Labels

By Amanda Murphy

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released voluntary labels for broadband providers to use to disclose speeds, data caps, prices, and more for consumer broadband service. These labels were proposed by the Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee as a safe harbor for broadband providers to comply with the 2015 Open Internet Order, otherwise known as the Net Neutrality Order. In the 2015 Open Internet Order, the Commission asked providers to give consumers their prices, performance, and network practices in a simple, easy-to-understand way—similar to nutrition labels. Below is the broadband label template. Read...

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USDA Grant Funds Rural Telemedicine and E-Learning

By Eric Frederick

 The USDA is making $19 million available to rural areas seeking to expand distance learning opportunities and telemedicine. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program gives schools, government groups, non-profits, businesses, and others the opportunity to obtain equipment and instruction that can benefit local students, teachers, doctors, and, most importantly, the community.  Nearly one fifth of America’s population resides in rural areas, as classified by the U.S. Census Bureau. These nearly 59.5 million people are spread over more than 90% of the nation’s land area, making it exceedingly difficult to concentrate...

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