High-Speed Internet Update!
Frontier will be providing us with final plans for the Spring 2019 buildout in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, some areas of PI Township and Krakow Township will be left out of the plans and others may not get full Internet speeds. There are many reasons for this, but existing providers are claiming that they are servicing the area when clearly they are not. The funding for these buildouts in rural areas comes almost exclusively from FCC funds. Their ‘maps’ show areas already receiving High-Speed Internet, and they are highly INACCURATE because existing providers ‘exaggerate’ (LIE) about their coverage and the speeds that they provide. It happens all over the country by the way, not just in our area.
We are in contact with our elected representatives, both State and Federal. We are beginning to be heard, but we will need your help soon to push us over the top. I want to caution you that when elected officials, of both parties, say the Farm Bill on the Federal level or some State Bill will provide the money they are sadly WRONG! If you read the bills they are full of delaying tactics and limitations that make real funding to rural areas almost impossible. We are working to make our elected officials aware of these limitations, and there is true bipartisan support for making changes, but IF we are all to get high-speed Internet we still have a ways to go.
We are pleased that Frontier will be bringing fiber to our area, even if it is at a limited speed, and we are working with them to get additional funding that will bring much higher speeds and expand the system to reach everyone in our area regardless of which Township they may live in.
We will get back to you with an action plan as soon as we get all the information from Frontier. And yes, we are exploring relationships with other providers also in areas where Frontier does not currently have existing services. We will need your help to lobby our elected officials so we can move our community into the 21st Century of connected services.
The long effort to bring High-Speed Internet is progressing well at this point and getting much closer to providing a real solution for our area. Hopefully, we will have a solution in place by next summer. The discussion is revolving around getting a ‘minimum’ of 25 Mbps download speed and at least 5 Mbps upload speed. We believe that we now have the ‘floor’ set at those speeds as the minimum for all of PIHA. We are not done as of yet, and we have meetings with Frontier coming in a few weeks and are still exploring alternatives with other potential sources.
What we all really want is truly high speeds available to residential and business customers that far exceed what any others are offering in the area. Although we have high hopes of boosting the speeds substantially nothing is ‘official’ at the moment.
Keep your eye on this site, and we will keep you up to date with any firm news in the future. A lot of parties are working hard with us in the effort, and your calls to politicians have been bearing fruit in terms of making our efforts visible in Lansing and Washington. Thanks to all of you who have supported this effort.
Just heard from Bob Stewart of Frontier and there is a bill (House Bill 5670
) that is part of a legislative effort by the Governor, late in his term, as a priority. This bill will create funding for rural Internet service. We need to support this bill since it requires that a MINIMUM of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload be reached to get the funding. THIS WOULD BE VERY POSITIVE FOR PRESQUE ISLE and for the underserved areas of our community.
Frontier will be testifying on Tuesday in SUPPORT of this bill!. AT&T does not plan to be there, but Charter and Comcast will likely oppose the bill since they don’t want to have a stated minimum speed requirement. Bob will get back to me if he believes some of us should be present since he plans to use Presque Isle as ‘poster child’ for why this bill needs to pass. I told him I would happily make that trip. Bob has also spoken to Larry Fields, Presque Isle Township Supervisor, and he is willing to show up also to testify.
I am going to use Social Media, the website, and email everyone I know of to call their State Representative, AND Mary Whitford, District 80 Representative, and sponsor of the Bill. Here is here contact information:
Also, Sue Allor, our local Representative will be supportive and we need to contact her also and ask her to strongly support this bill:
Please call or email both of the reps above, AND if you live or vote downstate your local rep also. This bill could go a long way to get underserved parts of rural communities such as ours truly high-speed Internet.
The support for this project has been fantastic, but this could really result in further expansion in our area AND provide support for other underserved areas as well. This is the first time that Frontier has come out in support of ‘minimum’ speed requirements, and so we want to support them in their efforts regarding House Bill 5670!
Folks, we have gathered a strong response from many of you about your interest in getting true High-Speed Internet in Presque Isle. We have you on our list, but now we need your help.
Here is what we are asking you to do NOW:
- Please FORWARD this link to your neighbors. TELL THEM WE NEED THEM TO EXPRESS INTEREST BY FILLING OUT THE CONTACT FORM. This needs to be done by the 25th of this month so we can forward a map that gives Frontier a geographic location of potential customers for their service. Please do this today and help us translate your ‘interest’ into a real service you can subscribe to! We want them to build a system that REALLY serves your needs.
- PHONE YOUR STATE AND FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES! I don’t think anyone has missed the fact that this is an election year. Phone your reps TODAY and keep it simple and very direct. This is what you need to communicate.
- That you live in Presque Isle with little or no access to the Internet, and extremely weak cell service.
- Tell them that Frontier Communications is considering a buildout in PRESQUE ISLE using State and Federal funds.
- Ask them to contact Frontier to urge them to follow through on this project.
- TELL THEM you want a RESPONSE from them on what they have done, and that this is an issue that will influence your VOTE!
- Don’t threaten, don’t include any other issues. Keep the focus of this contact on the Frontier Internet buildout.
- Use their contact forms on their site. Snail mail is not very effective, and they are out campaigning most of the time anyway.
WHO TO CALL (click the link for email and phone information):
*Jack Bergman, First Congressional District
*Sue Allor, 106th District, Michigan House of Representatives
*Jim Stamas, 36th District, Michigan Senate
*Debbie Stabenow, Senator, Michigan
Gary Peters, Senator, Michigan
* Indicates politicians who have been VERY receptive to helping us already! But call and email anyway!!! If one of them calls Frontier it counts for a hundred of us!
We will be adding to the site in the coming days with more information on what has been happening, but NOW we need your help!
The meeting on Wednesday was a FULL HOUSE STANDING ROOM ONLY EVENT! Thanks to everyone who attended and to the Frontier representatives who gave us an interesting and hopeful presentation. Some of the highlights were:
- Frontier currently has a build out in the planning stages for early next year. Completion dates are hard to project for all areas but most should be completed by this time next year.
- Almost all of PIHA will be included in the build out.
- Most, if not all, will be getting 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. MANY will be getting much stronger service. The factors affecting the faster downloads, up to 100 Mbps is the distance from the boxes the fiber is run to. They will be using existing boxes, BUT are currently looking for additional funds to install two new boxes to run fiber to. This will allow them to up speeds to many and reach some additional areas. The State of Michigan and the FCC will be likely sources of this funding.
- There is a possibility that some under served areas outside the initial build out could be served by installing wireless units at strategic points.
- It is hoped that final approval by Frontier management as well as additional funding could be settled sometime this fall.
- Higher speed service and commercial services will be available!
WHAT WE NEED TO DO:
- Contact your State and Federal elected officials. This is NOT a Township or County issue, it is a State and Federal one. On each of your phone bills for landlines or cellphones you have paid a fee for decades. Michigan has been 40th in getting that money returned and only THIS YEAR did we get any substantial funding. The State has recently set up a mechanism for funding and they have been helpful in getting us moved up the list. Check out our blog post for information on how to email your representative. It should be said that many or our reps have been working hard for us already, but we need to keep our project in front on them in this election year. CLICK HERE
- Frontier needs to know WHO is interested and WHERE they are! We need your sign up information. Name, Address, Phone, and Email. You can send that to us via the CONTACT page on our site. CLICK HERE
- We will be contacting you after you sign up with additional information telling you more about the proposed service. We will need to know what type of service you will need, especially if you are working from home or have a commercial business in the served area.
- There will be a need to keep up communications so please share your contact information, AND Subscribe to our email list so you get prompt updates wherever you are. CLICK HERE
One more thing! Chuck Austin and Kim Dobson have been working this project for over two and a half years! If you know Chuck and Kim give them some thanks for all they have done to make this happen. Larry Fields, the Presque Isle Township Supervisor has also been lobbying our elected representatives, for the first time by the way, and deserves notice for his work in setting up the Township Meeting and supporting the effort so faithfully!
There is a special PRESQUE ISLE TOWNSHIP meeting to discuss Frontier’s plans for expanding their services in our area on August 22nd. There will be Frontier people in attendance, and representatives from PIHA and other interested groups.
We need to have as big a crowd as we can muster so we remain ‘first on the list’ for a build out early next year! Please pass the word and ask your neighbors to come!
The meeting starts at 7:00PM at the Township Hall, so please be on time!
When we tell people where we live we have a lot of great things to say. I don’t have anything but joyful praise for the lakes, the beaches, the two lighthouses, Thompson Harbor State Park, or the ‘dark skies’ that reveal the entire milky way on most clear nights. BUT, then there is the Internet!!! It comes up in any conversation you have with any of our residents. Even wireless phones don’t work in many parts of our beautiful world.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?! We have satellite Internet (Viasat and Hughesnet) but they are far from adequate and don’t support business requirements such as VPN (Virtual Private Networks) and VOIP (Voice Over IP phone). We have SpeedConnect which is slow and highly unreliable now and who is converting to become a Viasat provider by May of next year, and we can use AT&T or Verizon Hot Spots that are weak and in many parts of PI non-existant. That is a LONG way from a REAL high-speed Internet service that is offered in larger cities such as Alpena and Rogers City. They have or soon will have 100 MPS service, while we have 12 MPS at BEST (and real-world tests show it almost NEVER gets to their advertised speeds). The COST of our system is far higher than what customers in Alpena and Rogers Citys have available. We need ALL potential suppliers to truly HEAR about our situation, and they need to feel PRESSURE to move forward toward getting our area the services we deserve.
We need to lobby our politicians to help us get the attention of Frontier (who controls the poles and lines in our area), and AT&T who is expanding their high-speed internet products in Northern Michigan. AT&T owns UVerse high-speed internet and currently has a merger pending with Time Warner. They desperately want to compete with Verizon which has fiber optics in many large cities in the US. AllBand, a cooperative fiberoptic network to the west of us that ‘might’ be a partner for some sort of system for us but they are not well funded and has had spotty service to its existing customers. That said, they might be an alternative for us but would need to apply for a grant from the government to fund the project since they could not fund it by themselves.
WHO TO CALL (click the link for email and phone information):
Jack Bergman, First Congressional District
Sue Allor, 106th District, Michigan House of Representatives
Jim Stamas, 36th District, Michigan Senate
Debbie Stabenow, Senator, Michigan
Gary Peters, Senator, Michigan
WHAT TO SAY:
- That having Internet speeds ONE-TENTH of the speeds in nearby cities, and paying three to four times the price, is a not so hidden TAX on our residents.
- Every week people looking for homes in the Association back out after finding that they will have very sub-standard Internet for their own work needs, streaming of content, and most importantly their children and grandchildren! YOUR HOME VALUES ARE AFFECTED NEGATIVELY by lack of high-speed Internet.
- We can’t have another HALF WAY RESPONSE from our providers. Frontier owns the poles and provides only high priced landline services to us, not even DSL. What would they need to give us the upgrade we need??? Our representatives need to put pressure on, and or assistance to, our existing providers to get us the service upgrades we need.
- Are there any grants, programs, or subsidies on the State or Federal level to help us attract a provider? Can the representative help? What happened to the FCC money taken off all our cell phone and Internet bills for decades? It is missing in action right now! WHY?
- ASK WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM THAT AFFECTS NOT JUST US BUT MOST OF OUR COUNTY! Are they truly engaged or is it just a stump speech paragraph at election time!
- Make sure they understand that this is an issue that will weigh on your VOTE!
We need to make a concerted effort to get a real response from our elected officials!