By Carol Stiffler

“Judging by the size of the crowd, you guys have terrible internet,” said Beth Leitner, community relations manager for Highline Internet.

Leitner said she’d been expecting a handful of people to attend her presentation at the August 8 meeting of the Portage Township Board. Instead, nearly every seat was filled.

Leitner said Highline expects to begin providing fiber internet – at speeds of 1 or 2 gigs per second – by the end of August.

Highline is already signing up people in Gould City, where cables have been laid and homes can be connected to ultra-fast internet within 10 days of sign-up.

While not the first high-speed internet option in the area (Starlink is also popular, and AT&T has laid fiber in select areas), Highline is the most widespread option in the U.P. Leitner said Highline expects to connect about 40,000 U.P. homes in the years to come.

Laying fiber on rural roads, where Leitner said there are an average of 10 homes per mile, would have been too expensive without federal funding from The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.

Leitner fielded many questions from Portage Township residents who were eager to learn if the service would reach their address. She also shared news that the Highline service is prepared to supply internet to Three Lakes Academy, should the school sign up, bringing a potential end to the Internet woes the charter school has recently endured.

“Frankly, our wi-fi sucks,” said Portage Township Supervisor Don Reed. “Hopefully we can have some better wifi connections.”