Program encourages challenges to identify slow or no internet service

The BEAD state challenge process will determine which locations are currently “unserved,” which are “underserved” and which are “served.” Unserved and underserved locations will be eligible to be connected through BEAD-funded projects.
The BEAD state challenge process will determine which locations are currently “unserved,” which are “underserved” and which are “served.” Unserved and underserved locations will be eligible to be connected through BEAD-funded projects.

CHEBOYGAN — Michigan has been awarded $1.56 billion in federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program funds by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to connect all homes and businesses to modern high-speed internet service.

The Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment, or BEAD, program makes $42.5 billion available to states for expanding broadband infrastructure. Before spending that money, states are required to accept challenges to government broadband coverage data.

The BEAD state challenge process will determine which locations are currently “unserved,” which are “underserved” and which are “served.”  Unserved and underserved locations will be eligible to be connected through BEAD-funded projects.

Sharen Lange, Cheboygan County economic development coordinator, said the county has been focused on supporting broadband expansion.

"We've worked to be a positive partner as service providers expand their networks. Specifically, the BEAD Challenge process allows us an opportunity to identify locations that may not be accurately represented on current connection maps so providers can go after funds to ensure high speed service for all," Lange said.

"For instance, the current maps may show a neighborhood is connected, but maybe you actually aren't, or maybe your connection is slow, undependable or unattainable. In this way, BEAD will show us where there are a range of deficiencies. It's a quick process and one we encourage homes, businesses and anchor institutions to participate in," added Lange.

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Cheboygan County Administrator Jeff Lawson is encouraging residents and businesses to visit the state’s website to review the Michigan Broadband Map to check if their property is serviced by broadband. If the residence or business disagrees that their property is not served, a “challenge” can be submitted to the state.

There are two ways you can provide your data: a portal developed by Merit Network that includes a downloadable tool to make taking speed tests easier or an interactive map developed by the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office. Challenges must be submitted by April 23.

— Contact Paul Welitzkin at pwelitzkin@gaylordheraldtimes.com.

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Program encourages challenges to identify slow or no internet service