BOYNE CITY — A bit more than two years after Great Lakes Energy’s Truestream service connected its first customer, the broadband internet service continues to expand its reach in Northern Michigan.
Great Lakes has indicated plans to implement the fiber-based Truestream network in areas where the Boyne City-based utility cooperative already supplies electricity, with service to be offered for residential and commercial customers.
The earliest phase of installation focused on the greater Petoskey area, with Great Lakes having since added more nearby areas to the Truestream territory.
In Emmet County, “basically, if you’re a (member of the Great Lakes cooperative), you can receive Truestream,” Great Lakes Energy communications and marketing manager Lacey Matthews said.
During the past two years, expansion efforts for Truestream have also focused on nearby Charlevoix and Antrim counties. Matthews said Great Lakes anticipates most of the cooperative’s electric service area in those counties will have the internet service available by the end of 2021.
Meanwhile, efforts are taking shape for adding Truestream farther south in Great Lakes’ 26-county service area, including the Newaygo, Hart and Wayland areas in west Michigan.
“Where we go next is still largely determined by (potential Truestream subscribers’) interest,” Matthews said.
Great Lakes currently doesn’t have specific plans for Truestream rollout in additional areas of Northern Michigan, Matthews said, but the cooperative is considering possibilities for such expansion.
The response to the Truestream service introduction in Emmet County exceeded the cooperative’’s projections for customer interest.
Great Lakes at one point saw 3,800 Truestream customers in Emmet as a goal attainable by the end of 2020, Matthews said, but about 5,400 had signed up within the county as of mid-December.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Matthews said the use of self-installation kits has helped Great Lakes reach out to some new Truestream customers while limiting in-person contacts.
Some areas served by Truestream previously had limited options available for high-speed internet service, and Matthews said an influx of people into Great Lakes’ territory may be helping drive the growth.
“We see an increase of people moving into our area, especially rural areas,” she said.
For residential customers, monthly pricing for Truestream internet access starts at $59.99 for the basic 100-megabit-per-second service level, with higher tiers offering speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second at additional costs.
Truestream also offers internet-based phone service, with options for bundling it with broadband access.
Great Lakes has set up a pair of websites for its Truestream business.
One, at truestreamfiber.com, offers details on the services offered and a means to find out if a given location is eligible. Another, at jointruestream.com, lets prospective subscribers express their interest in the service, with the cooperative using their input to gauge demand for potential expansions.
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