This Michigan Township is Making Gig Connectivity Affordable

If you’re looking to move to a community with a relaxing, rural lifestyle and quality Internet access, then Lyndon Township in Michigan may have just jumped to the top of your list. Now that the community has chosen an ISP to serve the community via its publicly owned infrastructure and established the cost of service, they're eager to start deployment.

Lyndon Township Board recently approved rates for their forthcoming fiber network, setting the price of symmetrical 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) Internet speeds at a reasonable $69.95 per month. This is a nice reward for the township’s residents, who last year approved a tax increase to fund the construction of the network. The affordable residential gig brings Lyndon Township into the same price range as communities such as Lafayette, Louisiana; Westfield, Massachusetts; and Longmont, Colorado.

Local Support Founds, and Funds, the Network

Though only a 20-minute drive from the University of Michigan, a world class research institution, Lyndon Township residents are mostly stuck with expensive, slow, and unreliable satellite Internet service. Around 80 percent of the community doesn’t currently have access to broadband, which the FCC defines as a minimum of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed.

When attempts to get existing Internet service providers to expand into the community failed, the township decided to build its own Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network. To fund the approximately $7 million network, residents approved a millage increase in 2017, with 66 percent of voters in support. The millage amounts to a property tax increase of $2.91 per $1,000 of taxable property.

Fast Speeds, Low Rates

Earlier this year, Lyndon Township chose Midwest Energy and Communications (MEC) as the Internet service provider that would offer Internet access to residents through the network. MEC is an electric cooperative that provides energy and Internet services to members in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.

In August, the township board also approved rates for the different speed tiers that MEC would offer once the network is complete:

  • 25 Mbps - $34.95 per month
  • 100 Mbps - $44.95 per month
  • 1 Gps - $69.95 per month

With gigabit speeds available for less than $70 per month, residents of Lyndon Township will soon have access to faster and more reliable Internet service for a lower price than a satellite subscription. Phone service is available for households and businesses for $39.95 per month and $49.95 per month respectively, and there is a $10 discount if it’s combined with Internet service.

Connecting to the network will be free for residents who sign up for services before April 30, 2019, to connect to the network. After April, new subscribers will be charged a fee based on their home’s distance from the fiber network.

The township could start construction of the network as early as next month.

Listen to episode 272 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast to learn more Lyndon Township’s fiber project and the referendum they passed in 2017.

We also spoke with Midwest Energy Cooperative back in 2016, check out episode 225 for that conversation.

Image of Lyndon Township sign courtesy of the Chelsea District Library.