Press Release

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich., Aug. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — 1 Gigabit Internet service will soon be available in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, thanks to an ambitious community broadband expansion effort by Highline Internet.

To provide lightning-fast Internet to as many Upper Peninsula residents as quickly as possible, Highline will leverage existing open access dark fiber and dark wave optical middle-mile infrastructure from Merit Network. Highline is constructing a 6,000+ mile fiber-to-the-home network that leverages federal investment from the Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF) to deliver real high speed Internet access for tens of thousands of Michigan residents. Engineering and construction work is underway and Highline will begin providing service to customers by the end of this year.

Delivering service by leveraging Merit Network’s existing high-performance middle-mile fiber optic infrastructure enables unprecedented speed-to-market to ensure the most timely connectivity to residents in need. Highline will offer Internet service of 1 Gigabit download and 500 Megabit upload, which greatly surpasses current Federal Communications Commission minimum broadband capacity standards. This replicable model reduces unnecessary financial burdens on carriers in addition to facilitating speed of deployment.

The challenges of population density and geography have long created a disparity in access to Internet connectivity in the Upper Peninsula. This digital divide has implications on educational outcomes, economic development, health care, and civic participation, among others. In the wake of a global pandemic, the hardships faced in these Michigan communities have been felt more strongly than communities that are currently connected to high-speed broadband services.

“Highline Internet is committed to putting the Upper Peninsula first in bringing the power of reliable, high-speed fiber Internet to households currently unserved, underserved and unhappily served across the region, enabling our future customers to thrive with a real Internet,” said Bruce Moore, president and general manager of Highline Michigan.

“Expansion of our middle-mile network in the early 2010s by leveraging federal investments to create an open access fiber network helped us further the mission of providing high-performance network services to community anchor institutions in rural and remote regions,” said Joe Sawasky, president and CEO of Merit Network. “Considering that hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents still lack access to basic broadband service, this collaboration with Highline Internet using our open access dark fiber and dark wave services represents a crucial next step in our common goal to facilitate equal fiber broadband Internet access to everyone in need – regardless of geographic location.”

Press Release

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