READING — A local broadband company announced Tuesday it will build high-speed internet fiber in Hillsdale and Branch Counties with a $6.3 million federal grant to expand connectivity.
Reading-based firm DMCI Broadband LLC will construct over 90 miles of fiber installation, reaching over 1,400 homes and businesses with up to gigabit speed internet services. The network expansion includes several projects that DCMI will be completed between spring 2023 and fall 2027.
“DMCIBB operates from 51 towers across Branch, Hillsdale and Southern Calhoun counties providing high-speed wireless internet to thousands of rural customers,” said DMCI managing partner David Cleveland.
DMCIBB has two major core upstream sites, one in Reading and one in Bronson.
“We will be building from both core facilities with fiber,” Cleveland said. The builds in Branch county will go north, south and east from Bronson. Hillsdale County will primarily be building north.
“We are very excited about this project and being an integral part of bringing high-speed internet to rural households and businesses in Michigan,” Cleveland said. “While fiber to the home has been in our plans since before the pandemic, this award will allow DMCIBB to rapidly accelerate our deployment of gigabit internet services to our rural communities.”
Branch County developed a plan with Aspen Wireless to serve much of its rural area. Commissioners considered using American Rescue Plan funding; a final decision is pending. It is not clear how the DMCI grant will affect that plan.
More:Public-private partnership proposed to build Branch County-wide broadband internet
The Re-Connect program accepted applications for over $1.1 billion in funds across the U.S., encompassing several different funding categories. The funds were awarded after a competitive evaluation from a pool of 166 other applications from across the country, all vying for a share of the $300 million available.
Applications were scored, analyzed and ranked based on several criteria, including servicing unserved and underserved areas, offering competitive prices, corporate financial strength, technical abilities, network scalability and overall long-term sustainability.
The USDA continues to accept applications for Re-connect funding twice a year.