Many Lyndon residents are mindful of other projects and initiatives that are being undertaken to address the lack of broadband access in our rural areas. Residents are interested in the scope of these projects, the funding models that are being proposed and if any of these funding resources could be of benefit to Lyndon Township. Recently we have been hearing about an effort by Washtenaw County – the Washtenaw County Broadband Task Force.
The Washtenaw County Broadband Task Force is a Board of Commissioners-appointed group studying countywide broadband equity. The Task Force’s current main activity is conducting a survey to better define which areas of the County lack broadband, in preparation to seek funding sources and partnerships. Lyndon Township is not included in the survey mailing since we will have 100% broadband coverage upon completion of our project later this year.Implementation of the Task Force has much to do with the years of work put in by volunteers from Western Washtenaw County to raise awareness of the broadband issue and explore solutions. Lyndon Township has been successful in addressing our own lack of broadband, but many other townships in the County still have areas without service. Lyndon Township has representation on this Task Force to both provide the benefit of our experience and also ensure that any County-funded broadband effort would benefit Lyndon Township. However, currently the Task Force does not anticipate a County funded or owned solution – instead they are exploring private partnerships that could incentivize private broadband expansion with state or federal grant money.
This County effort likely would not have happened if not for the success of Lyndon Township in the broadband space. And while we are hopeful that the Task Force is successful for the sake of our neighboring townships, it’s important to note that feasibility studies suggest even grant-incentivized broadband service offered from private partners would not be less expensive than Lyndon Township’s service (even when including our millage funding), and any success here would still be years away in terms of deployment.
Lyndon Township continues to independently track grant and other external broadband funding opportunities to ensure that we try to leverage any funding sources that might become available. But it’s important to note that broadband grant funding is limited and very competitive, and Lyndon Township’s demographics excluded us from most funding opportunities even before we began our own fiber project. We will continue to keep our ears to the ground for any new opportunities that could offset our broadband costs in the future.