By Lisa Carolin
More than 70 people filled Lyndon Township Hall Tuesday, March 22, to attend a board meeting that included a discussion and vote about broadband.
After a presentation by Ben Fineman, who is the leader of the local broadband initiative, attendees asked numerous questions, and then the Township Board voted 5-0 for Resolution 16-08, authorizing a feasibility study not to exceed the cost of $16,000. There was a vigorous round of applause from the crowd.
Fineman talked about local residents who drive to the parking lots of places with Internet service like the Township Hall and the Chelsea District Library, in order to get a connection to the Internet. A recent survey indicated that 95 percent of the people in Lyndon Township have a problem getting Internet service.
“Cable and phone companies have no plan to make broadband available to Lyndon Township,” said Fineman. “There’s not enough population density. We formed a broadband cooperative with the goal to deliver high speed broadband access to the Township.”
The cooperative contacted three companies about a feasibility study, and with a deadline to respond at the end of this week, have heard from just one — Pulse Broadband – which gave the estimated cost of $15,800 to do a study. It would entail going up and down every road in the Township to figure out the costs of engineering a broadband network.
The study could begin as soon as next week and will take 30-45 days. Fineman talked about the possibility of getting a millage on the Aug. 2 ballot to fund a township-wide fiber optic network.
“If that is approved, we would bid out the project to fiber construction companies,” said Fineman. “The project would take about eight months, weather permitting, and it could be in place next spring.”
Fineman estimated a worst case cost scenario saying that if the project costs $50,000 per mile, it would cost the township $3 million, which would be reflected in the amount of the millage.
Residents would be able to choose their own Internet service.
Results of the feasibility study will be made available to the public.