Approval of rural broadband plan held for review

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette The Ontonagon Village Council on Monday discussed a contract proposal from Northern Michigan University for broadband internet access via a cellular phone/LTE Network.

ONTONAGON — The Village Council on Monday delayed a decision on a proposal from Northern Michigan University (NMU) to install wireless internet service in the Ontonagon County area as part of the rural broadband access project.

The service would provide households with school-age children internet access where traditional wired internet services are not available.

NMU proposed placing two antennas on the village water towers, one in Ontonagon and the other in White Pine.

Village Council member Mike Mogen expressed concern on the placement of those antennas. He questioned who was going to pay for the electricity, maintenance and security costs for the service.

“Would those with security clearance have access to our water supply?” he asked.

Other council members questioned some of the wording in the five-page proposal.

“We are not pressed to go with this contract right now,” said Ken Waldrop, council president.

“Our area does have dead spots, and this would be good in those areas,” said John Hamm, a council member.

According to a memo from village manager Joe Erickson, who could not attend the meeting, “This project is supported by the Ontonagon Area School District. This service could also be used by the Fire Department and County Sheriff’s Department to provide internet access from vehicles in the field.”

Waldrop stated the project could also be a benefit to the village’s water lines.

The council did not vote the proposal down, but it wanted to take a closer look at the plan.