The Berrien County Board of Commissioners next week will consider hiring a non-profit to do a broadband availability survey. That’s after the body on Thursday heard from Southwest Michigan Planning Commission Director John Egelhaaf, who gave an update on local efforts to expand broadband. Egelhaaf said current FCC maps regarding broadband availability in the area are inaccurate. That’s why he said the first step toward securing funding for broadband rollout is to get accurate coverage maps. Commissioner Ezra Scott recommended hiring the Merit Network to conduct a survey.
“The most important thing is the Merit survey that needs to be completed to show the need,” Scott said. “That is part of a grant program, that we need to have that survey done.”
Scott said Merit has done similar work for Washtenaw County. Board Chair Mac Elliott proposed a $28,000 contract to hire Merit be placed on next week’s agenda. Meanwhile, the board was advised there will be legal considerations to keep in mind if it’s seeking to expand broadband. Multiple state laws could govern how a county government might handle such an operation.