MEC is bringing fiber internet service to rural southern Michigan thanks to initiatives like the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and the State of Michigan's Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program.

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fiber construction Explained

Jump to a Question:

What is ROBIN?
The State of Michigan’s Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) Grant Program is intended to help bring high-speed broadband to unserved residences and businesses throughout the state. 

Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) partnered with Berrien County, Cass County, and Van Buren County along with several townships/villages to apply for funding through the ROBIN Program.  

MEC was among several ISPs that applied and ultimately secured support to build fiber internet to addresses in Berrien, Cass, Van Buren, and St. Joseph counties. MEC and the partnering counties, townships, and villages are also contributing to the funding of the project.  

What is RDOF?
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is an FCC initiative designed to inject billions of dollars into the construction and operation of rural broadband networks.

How long will it take to complete these projects? 
RDOF and ROBIN must be completed by the end of 2026. We encourage patience during the construction process. We work as quickly as we can but as with any construction project, delays can occur.  

We build to specific areas (called zones) in a progression, which means some areas will be complete before others.  

When you sign up for service, your zone name includes the year that will start construction in your zone. In the beginning of that year, we will start sending monthly construction updates to keep you in the loop on our progress. You can also check our construction status via the link below:

Is my address eligible for service? 
When you sign up, you will see what construction zone you are in and when we plan to be in your area. You may also be part of a zone that is already complete and ready for home installs.

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How long does construction take in a zone? 
It can take about six months to complete mainline construction. After that, service drop construction begins. It normally takes 6-12 weeks to finish service drop construction and contact you to schedule your installation appointment. 

My neighbor is eligible for your internet service, but not me. Why?
Due to the nature of the initiatives, RDOF and ROBIN funds may only be used to build fiber to addresses approved by the FCC or the State of Michigan, respectively.

Why do I have to pay a fiber connection fee?
New construction is a significant investment, and the fiber connection fee represents your small stake in the overall process. It also ensures that we don’t waste effort by bringing a fiber line to someone’s house who decides not to take our service.  

My address is eligible, but my driveway is ½ mile long. Do I still pay only $100 for my connection fee? 

When do I have to pay the fiber connection fee? 
You can sign up for service without paying the fee. However, it must be paid before MEC can complete service drop construction to your home or business.

You will need to closely watch your email for MEC’s monthly construction updates. If it says that home installations are starting in the next calendar quarter, then you’ll want to pay the fee ASAP so that we can begin the 6-12 week process of service drop construction. We will not begin service drop construction until the fee is paid. 

We recommend paying the fee when you sign up for service. You will be contacted once construction is complete, but please note, depending on your construction zone that could be in 2026. 

I’ve paid my connection fee. When will I have service?
Your installation date depends on construction in your area. After you sign up, you’ll be added to our monthly construction email updates. Click here to view them.

Here’s a breakdown of our general construction process:

  1. The process begins with "walkout" work, which involves surveying an area to determine how and where to put fiber lines.
  2. We build and splice the mainline fiber. This line ultimately connects our service to the greater internet backbone that makes the internet possible.
  3. We build the service drop from our mainline to your property and install a network interface device (NID) box on the side of your home. You do not need to be home for this.
    1. If the construction involves placing cables underground, we call MISS DIG to send a representative to your property to mark underground public utilities. As soon as you see those flags appear, please mark underground sprinklers, pet fences and any other private underground facilities.
  4. The splicing crew visits your property to prepare the fiber line for installation.
  5. We contact you to schedule your in-home installation.

In some zones, we’ve run into delays in Step 2 due to special permits. Rest assured, we are working as fast as we can to get everything complete. Please keep an eye on your email for our monthly construction updates.

Key terms of the fiber construction process:

  • Walkout Work: Surveying the area to decide how to lay fiber lines.
  • Mainline Construction: The backbone of our fiber infrastructure. The mainline carries fiber out into our communities.
  • Mainline Splicing: Connecting fiber cables together along this backbone.
  • Drop Construction (or Service Drop): Bringing the fiber from the mainline to your home. We also install a network interface device (NID) on your property near the electric meter.
  • Network Interface Device (NID): A box containing fiber cables. This device completes the connection from the mainline to your home.
  • Drop Splice: Connecting the mainline fiber cables to the service drop and the fiber cables inside the NID. This is the last step before home installation.

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