Role for Leelanau County Government in Wireless Internet?

Winter in the Leelanau Peninsula.The Leelanau Enterprise reports that County commissioner David W. “Chauncey” Shiflett and the county board’s Wireless Internet Subcommittee are exploring Leelanau County residents’ use of and satisfaction with their Internet service and whether or not there’s a role for county government in improving Internet service.

The county is seeking proposals from about a dozen Michigan internet service providers to gauge interest in setting up a wireless Internet backbone on the Leelanau Peninsula using county-owned towers and other assets which could then be utilized by providers of wireless internet service.

Rob Franzo of Mitten Communications is working as a consultant for the county and said:

“What we’re proposing will essentially complete the ‘middle mile’ for service providers … The whole idea behind our plan would be to remove some of the barriers that have prevented companies from investing in Leelanau County and being able to provide better Internet service to more remote areas of the county.”

Subcommittee chairman Shiflett said the overarching goal of the group should be to ensure that at least 95-percent of Leelanau County residents have access to wireless Broadband Internet service…

(county information technology director Ron) Plamondon said he had been in touch with representatives of several schools in Leelanau County who, he said, are very interested in the issue because students are now routinely being issued laptop computers and doing homework online.

Photo Credit: Winter in the Leelanau Peninsula. by John Levanen

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6 replies
  1. John Sullivan
    John Sullivan says:

    This would be a fantastic benefit for the residents of Leelanau County! Many of my friends are still tied to dial-up only telephone lines, and even the expensive DSL connections are at the bottom end of what is considered high-speed broadband. I’m interested in knowing when this might happen, and what download speeds might be. I’m assuming that one would still require a telephone connection for uploading.

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  2. Peter Wolcott
    Peter Wolcott says:

    We who have access to LeelanauConnect, Brian Mitchell’s, service are very happy. Tower down on Monday and back up on Tuesday. The only role for the County is to streamline the permitting process so more of these private sector towers can go up. No need for further studies, we know this system works. No need for Government investment.

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  3. John Sullivan
    John Sullivan says:

    Hi, Andy…we’ve gotta stop meeting like this.
    I checked out http://www.connectleelanau.com/, to see the broad outlines, since this is the first I”ve heard about county-wide wireless access. Seems the service area concentrates on the northern tier (Omena, Northport) unless I’m missing something. Is this the plan? Looks like they’re a little behind on execution too (2008!). Will this county-wide idea really be county-wide?

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  4. Robert Garity
    Robert Garity says:

    While I applaud the private wireless carriers in the area for providing something when nothing is available, I wonder, what about a wired alternative? I have relatives in Leelanau County who use wireless and I also have a home in a rural area in Wentworth, South Dakota. This area is similar to Leelanau County in many ways, long distances between homes and businesses, few subscribers etc. We have a local telephone/cable tv/internet provider who has recenly installed fiber optic connectivity to every home in the region. This is their website, http://www.itc-web.com/. This method is so much more fast and reliable than wireless. It’s confusing why this alternative would not be considered in Leelanau County. The county could certainly participate by providing the backbone wiring and leave individual connectivity to the cable providers. In fact the network could be set up so that several cable providers could compete on the system so customers could have a choice and prices could remain low. This way everyone would have access to digital telephone/digital cable tv and high speed internet that is reliable and affordable.

    Perhaps Comcast or Charter in Traverse City would be interested if the County would help fund the backbone. It’s worthy of consideration. If they can do it in rural South Dakota, they can certainly do it in Leelanau County, Michigan.

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