NMU, Iron County Bring Broadband to Crystal Falls Area

Tuesday 6, 2017

Northern Michigan University and the Iron County Board of Commissioners announce the availability of NMU’s Educational Access Network (EAN) in the Crystal Falls area. EAN provides broadband internet service through the university’s high-speed LTE wireless network to learners of all ages.

Through partnerships with municipalities such as Iron County, EAN uses existing public infrastructure to support the required LTE transmitters. The service has a range of about nine miles from the Crystal Falls courthouse, depending on terrain. This is the latest link in NMU’s effort to extend high-speed educational broadband throughout the Upper Peninsula.

According to Gavin Leach, NMU vice president for Finance and Administration, EAN delivers not only broadband connections, but a variety of course content. NMU offers families a filtered internet service that mirrors what K-12 students find in the classroom. EAN also provides college students with an internet connection suitable for degree-completion programs. For learners of any age, the service provides access to non-credit, personal development learning modules covering a range of topics and are included as part of the basic enrollment package at no extra cost. 

“We’re currently working with employers in the area to help them add job-related training information to EAN to assist people with learning specific job skills,” said Leach. “Since there are no data caps, EAN is the perfect tool for delivering bandwidth-intensive educational content found in many online programs.”

Iron County Administrator Gene Smith said he is pleased that county board members authorized the partnership with NMU. 

“EAN not only brings broadband and new learning opportunities to the citizens of Iron County, it also helps the county become more efficient in the delivery of essential services to its residents and businesses,” Smith added. “Our agreement with NMU allows us to use the LTE infrastructure to interconnect many of the tools and systems that rely on the internet.We’re very excited about the new possibilities afforded by this wireless system.”

Families of students enrolled in an EAN-qualified school can get full access to NMU’s LTE network for $19.95 per month, with an optional speed upgrade for an additional $5 per month. Community members who take personal and professional development courses pay $34.95 per month and agree to complete at least one learning module a year. The modules require a brief time investment compared with classes for academic credit. Access to both of these plans requires a one-time purchase of an NMU LTE mobile hot spot, an indoor stationary receiver or a mountable indoor/outdoor receiver.

To sign up for EAN, visit www.nmu.edu/ean from a smart phone or computer. Those without broadband can register using a public computer at a library or school. The interactive website provides tools that individuals can use to determine if service is available at their homes.

NMU has planned an accelerated schedule that will provide LTE wireless internet service to more than 64 U.P. communities over the next two years, including service to Iron River and Amasa areas in Iron County. A list of communities where the service is available and updates on those slated for LTE construction are available on the EAN website.

“Once individuals sign up for the service, it’s available to them in any community that has EAN,” Leach said. “It’s both a mobile and fixed wireless system, providing data connections across the U.P.”

NMU Media Contact: Eric Smith, director of Broadcast/AV Services, esmith@nmu.edu or 906-227-1314

Kristi Evans
News Director