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.
Anyone who signs up will get monthly emails with construction updates for zones that are under construction.
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.
Check Address Eligibility
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:
- Our team conducts walkout work to get the lay of the land and determine how we’ll build our mainline.
- We build the mainline by either burying fiber cables, or connecting them to power poles. During this process, we must work with many separate entities to ensure we have the correct permits to proceed with construction.
- We splice, or connect, fiber cables along the mainline to form the backbone of our connection.
- Service drop construction begins. This process connects your home to our mainline. If we need to place cables underground on your property, we call 8-1-1 to mark underground public utility lines, and ask that you also mark any private facilities such as pet fences or sprinklers.
- A fiber crew performs a drop splice to connect mainline fiber cables to your home and activate the line.
- An MEC customer service representative gives you a call to schedule your home installation. At this appointment, our fiber installer will set up everything you need to begin using your MEC fiber internet.
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.