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Blog // Connect Michigan

Fiber Internet Not Just for Big Cities

By Eric Frederick

Also known as gigabit Internet, fiber Internet gives users the fastest broadband speed available. It's on the wish list for many who use their broadband connection for movie streaming and online gaming, as well as music streaming, photo uploads, video communication, smart devices like Smart TVs or home security networks, and more. Larger cities like Atlanta, Georgia and Austin, Texas, among others, have caught the attention of agencies like Google Fiber, but many mid-sized and smaller cities do not expect to get on the Fiber map for many years to come. That is changing for Big Rapids, MI and surrounding smaller towns in Mid-Michigan.

With a population of just over 10,000 people occupying Big Rapids and nearly 43,000 in surrounding Mecosta County, the region is tremendously small compared to larger fiber cities like Atlanta with a population of almost 448,000 and 5.5 million in the surrounding metropolitan area. Though too small to attract the attention of national fiber providers, local ISPs are taking up the challenge to provide Gigabit Internet. 

Casair provides an array of computer, broadband and network services to residents, schools, colleges, hospitals, and businesses in Mid-Michigan. Casair's wireless network lies north of high-demand areas like Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Flint, covering a large expanse of rural areas and small towns in Mid- and Upper-Michigan. Successfully serving customers as a local ISP since the 1990s, Casair has seen incredible growth and has taken on fiber as its latest challenge. Approximately 400 miles of fiber cables are scheduled to be installed across a selected area, including Big Rapids and Mecosta County.

The fiber network is currently being installed and will be available for commercial and residential use in the coming months. The fiber initiative is accompanied by expansion in Casair's wireless networks, assisted by $26.4 million in stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Broadband Initiatives Program. 

The availability of Gigabit Internet in these areas opens many new doors for commercial reinvestment, residential expansion, educational growth, and more. Commuters to larger cities like Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Mt. Pleasant, or Lansing will have the network capabilities they need to work from home. Technology and manufacturing businesses will be able to ramp up development and production through use of computer-aided design and online financial and organizational tools. Residents looking to connect to unparalleled Internet for work or entertainment will turn their attention to communities in these areas. Schools will be able to support laptops and tablets to supplement lectures.  Local colleges can use the extraordinary speed to attract more applicants, particularly those interested in STEM fields. 

With local ISPs now investing in unprecedented broadband technology, the timeline for small and mid-sized cities to get on the Gigabit map may have just sped up.

 

To learn more about new developments in broadband and to see what is happening in areas near you, stay in touch with www.connectmycommunity.org.



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