Broadband internet service expanding to Hamilton Township

The Clare County Board of Commissioners approved a motion to bring wireless broadband service to Hamilton Township at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

Board chairman Don David is quick to note that deal is just to provide the service to the township itself and not individual residents. He added the broadband is a closed system that only goes from township to township.

According to David the contract, which shows what they are going to provide and what Hamilton Township is going to on its own, is the same as the ones they have with all of their communities. He said already Clare County has broadband deals in place with the cities of Clare, Farwell and Harrison plus additional ones for Arthur Township, Sheridan Township and the local library system.

“They get a chance to look them over then send them back to us for approval,” David said. “It’s the same contract we have been using for three years now.”

According to David broadband to the area was acquired through a deal to buy it from the same organization that provides it to local schools. While the deal led to hooking up the cities on a fiber optic system he added that wasn’t viable for other townships leading to them instead going for wireless internet through a deal with Jeff Hall and his Ithaca-based ISP, who David noted is working for free in exchange for also being able to use the wireless towers to offer his own bandwidth to residents.

“We went to the townships and told them if they wound put up their own towers Hall said he would come up and hook up broadband for a governmental bandwidth,” David said, noting the program has so far been enough of a success that other places in Michigan are looking at starting similar programs for their rural residents.

According to David the cost of the broadband system for each township is currently $1,001 per year. He noted though that it does go down, they bought it for a set price and split the cost evenly so with every new township added the cost decreases. He noted that both Hamilton Township and Franklin Township are online now with Freeman Township planning to come onboard after having starting construction on their tower.

According to David before the county began work to bring high-speed internet service to the area there was none in the area. He added that was somewhat caused by geography, Clare County’s various hills and valleys make it rather difficult to set up and broadcast the signals.

“It’s providing the opportunity for local township residents to get broadband service which they’ve never had before,” David said.

The broadband issue wasn’t the only one handled by the county commission during the meeting. The organization also appointed Tracy Byard as the governing body delegate to the

Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan conference to be held in Grand Rapid from October 3 to October 5. The board also appointed Pam Mayfield as the alternate to the MERS conference.