Collaborative effort puts WiFi hotspots around copper country, hopes to spread across Upper Peninsula

Local News

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) — A collaborative effort has allowed for WiFi hotspots to be accessible for the Copper Country, soon to rest of the Upper Peninsula.

“This isn’t a replacement for someone’s home internet. We are just trying to step up and help those who don’t have it now,” said Mike Richardson, Director of Regional Educational Media Center #1.

In small communities, people talk. They talk about issues they all face together and in a place like the Copper Country, one topic seemed to be discussed the most, internet connection.

“It really helped highlight the lack of resources we have and the challenges,” said Kevin Store, Executive Director, Portage Health Foundation.

“Everything from geographic challenges, geological challenges, service provider challenges. There’s a lot of barriers to the whole idea that connectivity within the community and it’s helping me understand to a small degree at this point on what some of those challenges are and what role do we have as a foundation to not only be part of that conversation, but to focus on what we do moving forward from this point.”

The Portage Health Foundation, UP.Net, Peninsula Fiber Network and Regional Educational Media Center came together and started to address the issue at hand. Showing the meaning behind Copper Country strong.

“It’s this small town community,” said Richardson.

“People know each other and they have these conversations and how can we help? what can we do? and then builds and grows from there, so they were doing their thing, we were doing our thing and it was very similar and we were able to just join those together and expand and make it more public and get more awareness around it.”

WiFi hotspots are located all around the Copper Country. From Alston to Calumet, there are currently 10 locations up and running, organizers hope to have at least 30 over the next few months.

“We’re about a third of the way into the installs right now,” said Store.

“Their hopefully that this might serve as a bit of a model for rural communities as a multi-sector collaboration and trying to have a larger conversation about connectivity in a rural area and the role that it plays, not only for the over health of our community, but just the overall quality of life and access to information and communication and resources that is needed in rural communities like ours.”

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