County board mulls ideas for expanding internet

HARRISVILLE — Several ideas in an effort to get widespread broadband Internet access across Alcona County were discussed during a Wednesday meeting of the Alcona County Board of Commissioners.

Earlier this month Leadership Alcona representative Marlena MacNeill came to commissioners asking them to consider taking on the role of finding a solution for the longstanding absence of county internet availability.

MacNeill said although Leadership Alcona officials have worked to get Internet to the county, they thought the backing of a local government would work better in the effort.

Members of the board, including Commissioner Adam Brege, have been looking at options to provide internet to the community since that discussion.

He said Wednesday he took a meeting to discuss technology that could help get Internet into many areas of the county.

According to Brege there is an Internet anchor point that can be connected to fiber optic Internet and then broadcast from a high tower across wide areas.

“You can broadcast up to a 25 mile radius,” he said. “You have to have a significantly tall tower to get over land masses.”

Brege said he took the meeting in the spirit of fulfilling the request by Leadership Alcona and it was a preliminary inquiry.

“I don’t know the costs for equipment or what we would need to do anything, but there are technologies available where we could provide most of the population of the county with Internet,” he said.

Brege said it would not be free of charge but at least provide some Internet coverage to hard to reach areas in the county.

Chairman Craig Johnston said he liked the idea.

“There are several towers in the county,” he said. “I know we talked about it and that there would be a fee for leasing space.”

Brege said it could work but it was a long way out before it could ever be implemented.

“The homeowner would be responsible for buying the equipment to get Internet in their home, but it would be available,” Brege said. “There would be costs involved, but maybe it would be something you could look at down the road.”

One audience member asked Johnston who was in charge of communications, such as Internet, in the county.

Johnston said the county did not have a standing committee.

“If there is interest it might not be a bad idea,” he said. “Perhaps I’ll give that some thought if there is anyone interested get ahold of me.”

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.