CHEBOYGAN — The Indian River-Tuscarora Township area made the first round of cuts for a grant program designed to improve broadband connectivity in rural areas.

A grant application from broadband provider Charter/Spectrum to improve cable and internet service to about 3,000 homes and businesses in the Indian River and Tuscarora Township area is awaiting final approval.

If the application is approved, funds from the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program will be used to bring improved service. The program will disperse $238 million in federal funding to support the deployment of high-speed internet to approximately 100,000 underserved locations throughout the state.

“We were excited when the Charter reached out to us and said they were applying for the funds,” said Sharen Lange, economic development coordinator for Cheboygan County.

Lange said it was a very competitive process and several stakeholders in the county including libraries, local government units and health systems, sent letters of support. A decision on the Indian River-Tuscarora Township application is expected next month.

“The final determination hasn’t been made but their (Charter/Spectrum) indication to us is that they are hopeful,” Lange said.

Janet Vance is a trustee in Tuscarora Township who worked with Lange on the Charter/Spectrum application and she is aware of the hardship of not having a reliable internet connection. She said the grant is targeting homes and businesses in the Indian Woods Trail and Grandview Beach areas north of Eagles Nest Road and running near Interstate-75.

Vance said aside from those who have satellite service and access to hot spots, there is very little Internet service in the area now. She lives on a private road off of Eagles Nest.

“PIEG (Presque Isle Electric and Gas Co-Op) came in with a fiber optic system on our road about a month ago,” said Vance. “We have only three houses on our road and we have service at our house. But the other two houses don’t have that and it would have cost them tens of thousands of dollars to bring it in.

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“By getting this fiber optic (system) to go the rest of the way down the road it will be an important asset for them,” Vance continued. “One couple is elderly so they need (a reliable connection) to order supplies online and to get it delivered so this would help them a lot.”

Lange said the area has experienced an influx of new residents recently including some who require a good internet connection because they work remotely.

— Contact Paul Welitzkin at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Tuscarora Township area in contention for grant to improve broadband service