The goal of Wireless Oakland is to create public-private partnerships to ensure that all citizens in Oakland County have access to affordable broadband internet. Also, leverage access to public assets so that some level of free internet service can be provided to the Oakland County residents by the private sector.
County staff has continued efforts to implement the Wireless Oakland strategy. Those efforts have resulted in a partnership with Air Advantage, a Michigan based telecommunications company. Air Advantage was awarded $65 million in grants and loans from the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). Per the Federal Guidelines, the funding can only be used to provide broadband service rural communities in the Thumb and portions of Southeast Michigan. Their proposed fee based service area includes portions of northern and western Oakland County.
The funding awarded to Air Advantage will allow them to become one of the only companies to provide broadband services to Oakland County residents in these areas, bringing those residents this much needed critical infrastructure.
In addition to providing for-fee services in their complete service area, Air Advantage will create free “wifi” hotspots invarious downtown areas including the City of the Village of Clarkston, the Village of Holly and the Village of Oxford in exchange for access to County assets. Service is currently available in the Village of Oxford and the Village of Holly. A hotspot is also planned in the City of the Village of Clarkston.
Providing residents with access to high speed broadband is critical to the attraction and retention of citizens and businesses that participate in the knowledge economy. The proposed coverage area has typically been underserved, and the provision of both the basic infrastructure and a free component would greatly contribute to the local economy.