HOPKINS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Thousands of businesses and residents in Allegan County will start to gain more internet access, thanks to federal funding.

Before last week, staying connected in the winter months with dish internet service was near impossible for Coralee Zandbergen and her husband.

“When you have snowstorms, (snow) goes on the rod on the dish. It sticks right to it, so we couldn’t get no internet because it was blocking (the signal),” Zandbergen said. “I had to scrape it off … in order to get the internet to work.”

Even when connected, the speeds were not good.

“I turn on a few games. It takes about 10 minutes to get loaded up. It was awful,” Zandbergen explained. “So, I go to the next game. It was just a nightmare.”

For more than 12,000 addresses in Allegan County, that nightmare will soon be over.

Starting in November, crews began installing more than 1,000 miles of fiber backbone that will bring broadband internet service with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second. The $60 million project is chiefly funded by American Rescue Plan Act funds appropriated by the state, with $28.4 million, and Allegan County, with $17.7 million.

Jill Dunham, who manages the project, says the service will help the state’s fourth fastest-growing county further attract businesses.

“There are huge swaths of Allegan (County) that have no high-speed internet, and frankly they don’t have good cell (phone) coverage either,” Dunham explained. “If your area has internet, then you can live there and work from home. But if your area doesn’t have internet, people can’t move there.”

Dunham says they anticipate the project will be done by late 2025.

More information on the project, including for Allegan County residents who want to know when they will be serviced, can be found here.