Northern Michigan Creating Internet Partnership to Bring Web to Rural Areas
Glenn A. Wilson Sr. of M33 Access, Rose City, Pioneered Program 9 Years Ago
Glenn A. Wilson Sr. rides a high-riser bucket truck at a parade in Northern Michigan to promote his Internet access programs.
Northern Michigan is getting connected -- big time.
Two groups of high speed Internet service providers are partnering or exploring ways to bring broadband service to small towns from Saginaw to the Upper Peninsula.
"It seems like only yesterday that we went online and began signing up our neighbors and friends to dial-up service, bringing to our region for the first time widespread access to the Internet," said Glenn A. Wilson, Sr., founder and president of M33 Access, of Rose City, pioneer of the program.
"Believe it or not, and frankly it's hard for us to comprehend, it's been nine years since M33 Access was born."
M33 Access has thousands of customers spread over a wireless network of nearly 60 towers covering more than 10,000 square miles -- one of the largest grids of its kind on the planet, said Mr. Wilson.
Wilson has gotten widespread news coverage for his service. TheStreet.com, commented: "The pioneer in this field is Glenn Wilson, president and founder of M33 Access in Northern Michigan. Frustrated that none of the telecom carriers would bring high-speed Internet connections to the depressed countryside surrounding his hometown of Rose City, Wilson figured out how to buy a hodgepodge of parts from Florida-based online retailer HyperLink Technologies and rig up the country's first renegade wireless ISP."
"Besides dial-up, we offer a variety of high-speed services including wireless, DSL and T-1 lines, as well as Digital Phone Service (voice over Internet protocol) telephone service. And through our affiliate, Michigan Access, we're a fully credentialed telephone company, offering traditional telephone service statewide.
"But I promise you this is just the beginning. We've got big plans for upgrading the technological infrastructure throughout Northern Michigan to better prepare ourselves - and especially our children -for a challenging future."
Seven Internet providers have signed an interconnection agreement forming the Michigan Network Alliance. The Alliance aims to route Internet traffic faster and more efficiently throughout the region.
Partners are: Central Solutions, Inc., of Beaver Island; Charlevoix Wireless, Inc.; Cherry Capital Connection, in Elk Rapids; M33 Access (ISP) and Michigan Access, both of Rose City; Nodin Communications, LLC, of Sault Ste. Marie; and SpeedNet, of Saginaw.
A separate group, the recently formed Northern Michigan Broadband Cooperative, is exploring ways to expand broadband service in a portion of the region.
"We fully intend to do all we can to facilitate the goals of the co-op," said Mark Snyder, president of Charlevoix Wireless, who explained that the Alliance was born after months of negotiations that included many of the same concerns as the co-op.
Snyder added: "In order to expedite services, we felt we could move more quickly in fulfilling the needs of our communities than other initiatives under way. A privately run entity is much more fluid than a publicly controlled entity. And we're already here."
The interconnectivity (Internet protocol routing) agreement between the companies will immediately enhance overall capacity of Internet traffic that can be increased on demand, said Tim Maylone, founder and general manager of Cherry Capital Connection. "This agreement will make it much more convenient for consumers of our services to interact."
The group said is exploring potential funding sources to expand Internet connectivity through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program and the Federal Communications Commission.
One of the first goals of the Alliance, Maylone said, is to connect colleges in Roscommon, Alpena, Gaylord, Petoskey, Sault Ste. Marie, Traverse City to facilitate distance learning.
M33 Access offers wireless Internet service for $39.95 monthly and DSL phone for $29.95 a month.###
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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