Broadband internet access expansion coming to Lake County

Charter Communications receives millions from the FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund for the project

Charter Communications will be expanding broadband access in Lake County through the FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund program. The project is expected to be completed in two years.

Charter Communications will be expanding broadband access in Lake County through the FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund program. The project is expected to be completed in two years.

Photo courtesy of Charter Communications

LAKE COUNTY — A survey of the Lake County broadband access done in 2021 showed that 54% of the residents had no access to the internet. Charter Communications is working to help remedy that situation.

During a meeting of the Lake County board of commissioners this month, Marilyn Passmore, director of State Government Affairs for Charter Communications, presented information on the company’s plans to expand broadband in the county.

“This expansion is the most exciting project I have worked on in my tenure with the company,” Passmore said. 

She said there has been a recent influx of broadband infrastructure dollars from the federal government, and part of which is the Federal Communications Commission Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

“The FCC found that they were sitting on a significant amount of unallocated universal service funds — the fees that are assessed on telephone bills,” Passmore said. “The FCC decided to do a reverse auction whereby broadband providers could bid for the rights to receive funding to go out to unserved areas.”

Charter has launched a $5 billion, multi-state broadband expansion that will bring connectivity to over 1 million new customers, she said. It will include $1.2 billion in RDOF to expand broadband in unserved communities, which will provide an all-fiber build with data speeds of 1000 Mbps download speeds and 500 Mbps upload speeds.

The build out will provide new service or expanded service in the village of Baldwin, and the townships of Elk, Eden, Dover, Peacock, Newkirk, Ellsworth, Webber, Cherry Valley, Pleasant Plains, Sauble and Yates.

The expansion includes 5,101 addresses, but anywhere the fiber network goes, residents along the route will have access to the network if they choose to take it, Passmore said.

“We will work with local communities to get right-of-way agreements, and we have filed for permitting to attach to power line poles,” she said. “Where we can’t attach to poles, we will go underground. As we build, we will ‘light’ the system. We won’t wait for the project to be completed to turn it on."

Per the FCC rules of the program, companies have up to six years to build out, Passmore said, but Charter expects to have the Lake County project completed in two years.

“This is a really exciting project for us,” she added. “This is going to transform these communities.”

Under the program, broadband and voice must be offered, she said, but the Charter program will offer video, mobile connectivity and cable, as well.

In addition, she said, Charter has a number of initiatives to help people access internet services.

  • Spectrum Internet Assist offers low-cost broadband for low-income students and seniors for $19.99 a month. It includes no data cap, no contract, a free modem, and free internet security suite
  • Spectrum Stay Connected K-12 allows schools to use CARES ACT funding to bulk-buy broadband
  • Spectrum Digital Education Grants support community organizations promoting digital adoption and literacy
  • Spectrum Community Solutions offers bulk internet for group housing situations.

In addition, the FCC Affordable Connectivity Program allows eligible households to save up to $30 a month on internet services.

“Only 5% of Michigan residents have taken part in that program,” Passmore said. “People that would qualify are those that are getting SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid, Federal Public housing, SSI (Supplemental Security Income), and WIC (Women, Infants and Children assistance). Veterans can qualify for lifetime services, as well.”

Residents of Lake County who may qualify for assistance in accessing internet services are encouraged to reach out to Charter Communications, she said.

For more information on programs to assist accessing internet services call customer service at 855-366-7132. 

To keep up to date on the broadband expansion program visit