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West Benzie County
and northwest Manistee
County, Michigan Area ISPs
(Internet Service Providers)

Jim Stamm • 231-882-5673

Send Email • Beulah, MI, 49617

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That is, Internet Service Providers
(ISPs) in the Arcadia, Bear Lake,
Beulah-Benzonia, Frankfort-Elberta,
,and Honor, Michigan areas.

Last Updated: July, 2017
Broadband Internet Services
Dial-up Service


Frankfort 'Night Light'Broadband (high-speed) Internet Services (384 kbps to 100 mbps)

  • Maps showing broadband coverage in Benzie County, and the type of provider supplying the service

    Note: In areas where there is duplication of service, services are shown in this order first: fiber, cable, DSL, fixed (long-range) wireless, mobile (cellular) wireless. Also, satellite Internet service is not shown but it is available throughout the county.

    Areas covered by providers advertising speeds of at least...

    As of February 2016...

    Looking at the second map, it would appear the entire county has 10 mbps broadband service or better. Yet, in spite of the advertised claims of the providers, there are still many areas (maybe 20% of the county by land area) lacking 10 mbps service, as seen in this map: Density of households unserved by a 10 mbps broadband provider. In fact, most of those areas are lacking even 3 mbps service, as seen in this map.

    Except for a small area in the northeast, the only part of the county that can receive 25 mbps or better (which is maybe 40% of the county by land area) are those areas served by Charter. (There are a few exceptions — isolated areas that can get 25 mbps or better using cellular Internet — but these are areas that very close to the cell towers.)

    We do not yet have any fiber service direct to homes or businesses.

    See this Web page for the source of the broadband coverage maps at Connect Michigan. Here you can also see more county broadband data, as well as select other counties.


  • Cable Internet

What is it? – High-speed Internet service via the cable TV line.

Speed – 30 to 100 mbps

Availability – Not available to all residents in a given area. Usually only available in or nearby a city or town.

Comments / More Details – This is the fastest high-speed Internet option. It's more expense than DSL, but around the same price as cellular or satellite Internet.

Warning: Charter is NOT forthcoming about their prices, at all. Standard rates — those that take effect after the promotional period – are NOT to be found! (If they are on any of Charter's sites they are very cleverly hidden.) They currenly have an intermdiate prices that are in effect between the promotional period and when standard rates take affect. When you sign up, be sure to make them provide you with ALL the prices, especially what the "standard rates" are. You have a right to know.

This Web page helps with some of their Internet plan details.

They say "free modem" but really the rental of their modem is inlcuded in the prices. I found a line on Charter's site — a "Charter Internet modem is required and is included in the price." They used to charge $7/month for a modem, now it's included in the price no matter what. If you own your own modem, can you get a cheaper rate...? You should not be forced to pay for something you do not need.

As of 9/2014, it appears their only current Internet plans and prices are:

  Plan Speed Promotional
rate (year 1)
Intermediate
rate (year 2)
Standard
rate (year 3
and later)

• Internet Ultra 100 mbps download,
5 mbps upload
$99.99???
per month
$109.99???
per month
$114.99
per month
• Charter Spectrum 60 mbps download,
4 mbps upload
$29.95
per month
$49.99
per month
$59.99
per month

  • Promotional rates – apply for a 12 month promotional period and only when bundled with other services. What is the rate when NOT when bundled...?
  • Intermediate rates – apply for one year after the promotional period is over.
  • Standard rates – are the long-term rates and apply after promotional period and the second year intermediate period.

Also, do not force them to make you get more speed than what you need. Most home users will do fine with 3 to 12 mbps! But now they may off no other option for a lower speed other than their Internet Plus plan, which provides up to 30 mbps — much more than needed for most users.

NEW: Data Cap — Charter now has a data cap, limiting how much data can be transferred per month, see their Excessive Use Of Bandwidth page. But they claim it applies to only 2% of their customers (for now). They say further, that the following is prohibited – "Excessive use of bandwidth that in Charter’s sole opinion, places an unusually large burden on the network or goes above normal usage. Charter has the right to impose limits on excessive bandwidth consumption via any means available to Charter." They claim they will notify you three times if excessive use occurs. But watch out, once the data cap is reached you may get cut off!. They also state they may cut your speed during times of peak congestion (which is actually forbidden by the FCC's Net Neutrality policy).

Bundles – Charter offer cable TV, Internet, and telephone services, and there are bundles of combination of that that will save money. Be sure to find out what the standard rates are that apply AFTER the promotional period and the second year intermediate period.

WARNING – Charter Phone – we recommend against it. Yes, there are a many attractive features, and the price MAY be a little lower than AT&T after the promotional period (but check that closely). But there are many negative aspects to Charter Phone service:

  • You MUST have electrical power to have phone service no matter what type of phones you have (even the old-style corded phones that did not use electrical power). Electrical power is required to keep the equipment running that provides phone service. If the power goes out, you have NO phone service, including 911.
  • You can get battery backup device which, during a power outage, gives you up to 5 hours of phone service. But but after that, you have NO phone service, including 911.
  • You'll need to maintain the battery backup device yourself – batteries in these need to be replaced (for $40 or so) every few years. If not properly maintained then during a power outage you'll instantly have NO phone service, including 911.
  • To have phone usage for the few hours that the battery backup provides, you MUST have one corded single-line, touchtone phone connected. (If a cordless phone is connected, it will NOT function without its own separate battery backup, and most cordless phones do NOT have that feature.)
  • Like AT&T U-verse Voice, I'm sure Charter claims no liability for the failure of your phone service during a power outage, including failure due to the insufficient (or absence of) battery backup power.

  • By the way, one saving grace during a power outage can be if you have a cell phone. Be sure to keep it fully charged so that during a power outage you'll have plenty of battery time. Also, get an adapter for your cell phone so you can charge it in the car. That could be VERY handy during a 4-day power outage!

On the other hand, with standard phone line service...

  • The service is virtually maintenance free – there's nothing you need to maintain. None of the issues above apply! And should the power go out (as we all know is common in this area, and it can be out for days), if you have an old-style corded phone (HIGHLY recommended) even if you lose power you'll still have phone service (and 911).


  • AT&T U-Verse

What is it? – High-speed Internet, voice (phone), and TV service via fiber optic land-line phone line connection.

Speed – 3 to 75 mbps

Availability – Availability is limited. TV service is limited to those very close (half a mile) from their phone company's central office. Internet speed is likely distance dependent as well.

Comments / More Details –

  • Within the AT&T DSL range of speeds, prices are the same as AT&T DSL prices. For higher speeds (those approaching cable Internet speeds, prices are close to cable Internet prices. We're talking standard prices here, AFTER the short promotional period. As of March, 2015, standard prices are:

U-Verse 75 – 45 to 75 mbps – $91/month
Internet Basic 45 / Power – 24 to 45 mbps – $81/month
Internet Basic 24 / Max Turbo – 18 to 24 mbps – $71/month
Internet Basic 18 / Max Plus – 12 to 18 mbps – $61/month
Internet Basic 12 / Max – 6 to 12 mbps – $56/month
Internet Basic 6 / Elite – 3 to 6 mbps – $51/month
Internet Basic 3 / Pro – 1.5 to 3 mbps – $46/month

See the AT&T Speed Tiers page for more infromation.

  • You can get just the U-verse Internet service and not get phone service (or TV). But to get any U-verse service you must have a physical land-line phone connection to your home or business.

Updated Data Cap — AT&T now has lowered their data cap (surprise), further limiting how much data can be transferred per month. As of July 2017, it's set at 1000 gB per month for Internet Basic 768k through 300 customers, with an overcharge of $10 for every 50 gB over that (and a maximum overage of $100 per month).

See their Home Internet Usage page for more information. They claim it applies to only a few percent their customers (for now). They claim they will notify you several times by letter or email if excessive use occurs and before any charges are incurred for additional data usage.

Note that when streaming a movie from Netflix, a two-hour movie uses 2 gB at standard definition and 6 gB at high defintion. So if you do NOTHING esle on the Internet, you can at most watch 25 HD movies per month, and that's it. (Now think about all of the Internet users and devices in your household and how much they could potentially use!)

Bundles – Internet, Voice (phone), and TV can all be bundled, or not. But be sure to find out what the standard rates are that apply AFTER the promotional period.

WARNING – U-verse Voice – Not recommended!! – You do not want U-verse Voice! Yes, there are a few attractive features, and the prices MAY be a little lower after the promotional period (but check that closely), but there are many new negative aspects to the voice/phone service.

First know that U-verse Voice uses (requires) the Internet connection to provide voice (phone) service.

  • That means you MUST have electrical power to have phone service no matter what type of phones you have (even the old-style corded phones thta did not use electrical power). Electrical power is required to keep the modem running that gives you Internet AND phone service. If the power goes out, you have NO Internet and NO phone service, including 911.
  • Electrical power is now required to keep other AT&T equipment at your premises working as well. These include the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) (if applicable), and Intelligent Network Interface Device (iNID).
  • Now AT&T will provide you (at your cost) a special battery backup device which during a power outage will give you around half an hour of Internet and phone service. But after that you have NO Internet and NO phone service, including 911.
  • You have to maintain the battery in the battery backup device yourself – these need to be replaced (for $40) every few years. If not properly maintained then during a power outage you'll instantly have NO Internet and NO phone service, including 911.
  • To have phone usage for the half hour or so that the battery backup provides, you MUST have one corded single-line, touchtone phone connected directly to the AT&T U-verse Residential Gateway (the modem / router combo unit) OR to your in-home wiring. (If a cordless phone is connected to your in-home wiring, it will NOT function without its own separate battery backup, and most cordless phones are NOT so equipped.)
  • Note that rotary/pulse phones do not work with AT&T U-verse Voice service.
  • Also, read all the fine print" at the bottom of this Web page. It describes all the equipment that YOU have to monitor and maintain and that YOU are responsible for. They add "AT&T shall have no liability for the failure of your service to function during a power outage, including failure due to the absence or insufficiency of battery backup power."
  • Also, with U-verse Voice, you MUST have Internet service for the phone to work. So if the AT&T Internet goes down for ANY reason, even it you have a generator or there's no power outage, you will NOT have phone service, even 911.
  • It's amusing because they say on their Web page‚ "AT&T recommends that you always have an alternative means of accessing 911 such as a cellular phone during a broadband [or power] outage." If w need another phone service because of U-verse Voice is so bad, then why would we want U-verse Voice in the first place?!

  • By the way, one saving grace during a Internet and/or power outage can be a cell phone. Be sure to keep it fully charged so that during an Internet and/or power outage you'll have the most battery time for it. Also, get an adapter for your cell phone so you can charge it from the car. That could be VERY hand during a 4-day power outage!

On the other hand...

  • Standard phone line service is virtually maintenance free – there's nothing you need to maintain. None of the issues above apply! And should the Internet go out, or the power go out (as we all know is common in this area, and it can be out for days), if you have an old-style corded phone (HIGHLY recommended) even if you lose power you still have phone service (and 911).


  • DSL (digital subscriber line)

What is it? – High-speed Internet service via a land-line phone line.

Speed – 768 kbps to 6 mbps

Availability – Offered in all areas, but its availability and speed is often distance dependent — the distance from the phone company's "central office" in your area to your home or office. It's not available to all residents in a given area. All local phone companies offer DSL service. (DSL is sometimes resold by local, regional, and national ISPs. Contact your favorite ISP to see of they offer DSL in your area.)

You can get just DSL Internet service and not get phone service. But you must have a physical land-line phone connection to your home or business.

Special note for CenturyLink customers — Lifeline elibible subscribers to CenturyLink may qualify for home high-speed Internet service up to 1.5 mbps for $9.95/month for the first 12 months of service. Contact CenturyLink for more details. Ask about the Lifeline discount for phone service, as well.

Comments / More Details –

  • Maybe the cheapest "high-speed" Internet option.
  • Speeds are less than cable Internet, but usually the same or faster than cellular or satellite Internet.

Notes to AT&T DSL customers:

  • Updated Data Cap — AT&T now has lowered their data cap (surprise), further limiting how much data can be transferred per month. As of March 2015, it's set at 150 gB per month for DSL customers, with an overcharge of $10 for every 50 gB over that.
    • See their Home Internet Usage page for more information.
    • They claim the data cap applies to only 4% of their customers (for now). They claim they will notify you several times by letter or email if excessive use occurs and before any charges are incurred for additional data usage.
    • Note that when streaming a movie from Netflix, a two-hour movie uses 2 gB at standard definition and 6 gB at high definition. So if you do NOTHING esle on the Internet, you can at most watch 25 HD movies per month, and that's it. (Now think about all of the Internet users and devices in your household and how much they could potentially use!)

  • Standard prices for AT&T DSL — as of March, 2015, are:

Elite – 3 to 6 mbps – $49/month
Pro – 1.5 to 3 mbps – $44/month
Express – 768 kbps to 1.5 mbps – $39/month
Basic – 200 to 768 kbps – $31/month

Bundles – Phone companies usually offer telephone, Internet, cell phone service, and some form of TV service. Bundles with these services can be created to save money. But be sure to find out what the standard rates are that apply AFTER the promotional period.


  • Cellular Internet (mobile wireless)

What is it? – High-speed Internet service via the cell phone system. Sometimes, confusingy, called "wireless." Uses a small and simple device called an aircard (USB modem) or small wireless router to connect to a nearby cell phone tower.

Speed
– 512 kbps to 15 mbps.(download)

Availability – Available to virtually everyone. If you have a strong signal with a particular cell phone provider, chances are very good you can get Internet via that cell phone provider.

Comments / More Details –

  • You may have to sign up for 2 years.
  • There are data caps —limits on the amount of data that are allowed to be transferred per month, and there are fees if you go over the limit.
    • Note that when streaming a movie from Netflix, a two-hour movie uses 2 gB at standard definition and 6 gB at high definition. With the common basic data cap of just 5 gB/month, you can stream just ONE 100-minute HD movie and do NOTHING ESLE that month! (Now think about all of the Internet users and devices in your household and how much they could potentially use!) So a small data cap truly prevents you keep you from streaming video, like Netflix and YouTube, and limits your ability to stream music, as well.
  • This is the only system that's truly portable – when used with a laptop, you can access the Internet anywhere you have you have a strong signal from the cell phone provider.
  • At certain times of extreme weather, the signal can become weak or drop-out all together — a big issue if your signal is already weak under normal conditions.
  • More expensive and slower than Cable, U-Verse, and DSL
  • Similar in pricing to satellite Internet service.
  • Can use via a "Personal Hotspot" on smart phones to allow nearby devices to connect to he Internet via the phone.

Bundles – Cell phone companies usually offer cell phone service, Internet, and sometimes TV, and sometimes land-line telephone services. Bundles with these services can be created to save money. But be sure to find out what the standard rates are that apply AFTER the promotional period.


  • Satellite Internet

What is it? – High-speed Internet service via specialized satellite dish.

Speed – 512 kbps up to 16 mbps (download), and perhaps 25 mbps (5th generation)

Availability – Available to virtually everyone.

Comments / More Details–

  • Speeds quoted by the companies are maximum and not guaranteed, actual speeds will vary and likley be less.
  • At certain times of inclement weather, the signal can become quite weak or drop-out all together.
  • You have to buy or lease a special satellite dish.
  • You may have to pay an installation or activation fee. Ask them if you can waive that.
  • You may be required to sign a 2-year contract.
  • There are data caps — limits on the amount of data that are allowed to be transferred per month.
    • 5 or 10 gB/month is a common base data cap. Plans with larger caps are available for more money per month.
    • If you go over the limit,, there can be overage fees, or your Internet speed may greatly slow down.
    • Note that when streaming a movie from Netflix, a two-hour movie uses 2 gB at standard definition and 6 gB at high definition. With the common basic data cap of just 5 gB/month, you can stream just ONE 100-minute HD movie and do NOTHING ESLE that month! (Now think about all of the Internet users and devices in your household and how much they could potentially use) So a small data cap truly prevents you keep you from streaming video, like Netflix and YouTube, and limits your ability to stream music, as well.
  • HughesNet has an interesting "split" data cap system. For example, their cheapest plan allows 10 gB per month for use from 8 AM to 2 AM, and 50 gB per month for use from 2 AM to 8 AM, If you need to make any big downloads, do it from 2 to 8 AM!
  • Exede plans gives you a fast speed until you hit the data cap, then much lower speeds after that. Also, you get faster speeds during the daytime, and much slower speeds during the evening.
  • Similar in pricing to cellular Internet, and more expensive than Cable, U-Verse, and DSL.
  • At times, it can be much slower compared to all of the other types of Internet services.

Bundles – Satellite companies usually offer satellite TV and Internet, and bundles with these services can be created to save money. Some even have phone service available. But be sure to find out what the standard rates are that apply AFTER any promotional period.


  • Long-range Wireless (fixed wireless)
  • Downtown Frankfort – check with Josh Mills, City Superintendent, at 352-7117 at City Hall for more information.
  • M-22 Internet Project
  • SyncWave

What is it? – High-speed Internet service via specialized long-range wireless system. Equipment for these systems are added to existing cell phone towers or put on their own towers. In some cases, special antennas are provided to your home or business to receive these Internet providers.

Speed –

  • Downtown Frankfort — You can expect speeds up to 30 mbps download and 6 mbps upload. But like all Internet connections, especially wireless ones, speeds can vary from minute to minute according to many factors, such as how many users are on at that moment and the type of activity being performed. (If a lot of people are in town all downloading updates to their iOS, for example, the connection speed WILL be slower.)

  • M-22 Internet Project – Their basic speed is 20 mbps download / 20 mbps upload, close to the standard download speed of cable Internet and much faster than cable for the upload speed. They also have plan that's 5 mbps download / 2 mbps upload for less money per month.

  • SyncWave — 2 to 10 mbps download

Availability – Available to those within within the range of a provider's equipment and/or towers.

  • Downtown Frankfort — intended primarily for short-term use by visitors to the downtown area, the city offers free, insecure (no password), wireless Internet service in the downtown area, from the boat launch (10th Street) to Lake Michigan beach, and from the north side of Main Street to Betsie Bay. The connection lasts for a limited time, perhaps 2 hours, then you must reconnect. (This should not be confused with a separate, password-protected, wireless network that is for use by customers of the marina.)

  • M-22 Internet Project – In Manistee County: Arcadia, Onekama (including Pierport) and Pleasanton townships. In Benzie County: Upper and Lower Herring Lake areas (as far east as US-31), Joyfield and Blaine Townships, portions of Benzonia and Weldon Townships, the city of Frankfort and village of Elberta, and up the Betsie River valley a few miles from Betsie Bay, and the village of Beulah. They are expanding their service area all the time. Check out their coverage map to see the areas they currently cover.

  • SyncWave – The SyncWave tower is on Pioneer Road just south of Homestead Road (south of Honor). Coverage range is about a mile from that tower. Coverage from that tower may someday expand and more towers may come to this area. To determine if you are in the coverage area of their current tower, they ask that you call them.

Comments / More Details –

  • Downtown Frankfort —
    • intended primarily for short-term use by visitors to the downtown area.
    • Not intended for continuous residential or commercial use (I assume).
    • A quite fast connection is possible, similar to that of cable Internet.

  • M-22 Internet Project –
    • Their Premium plan is $130 per month:
      • speeds up to 20 mbps download and 20 mbps upload.
      • virtually "unlimited" data transfer – 6 terabyte download allowance per month.
      • good for a multiple-user household and streaming video.
      • equipment and installation fee of $249 with two-year commitment
    • Their Standard plan is $90 per month:
      • speeds up to 15 mbps download and 5 mbps upload.
      • virtually "unlimited" data transfer – 6 terabyte download allowance per month.
      • good for a small household and streaming video.
      • equipment and installation fee of $199 with two-year commitment
    • Their Economy plan is $70 per month:
      • speeds up to 5 mbps download and 2 mbps upload.
      • virtually "unlimited" data transfer – 1.5 terabyte download allowance (cap) per month.
      • good for those using just one device at a time and "adequate" for streaming video.
      • equipment and installation fee of $199 with two-year commitment
    • They also offer seasonal, no-contract, and commercial plans.
    • In the past they also had a Starter plan at $35 per month. Call to see if that's available.
      • speeds up to 20 mbps download and 20 mbps upload.
      • with this plan only there IS a data cap — 10 gB per month, and a charge of $5/gB if you go over the limit. (Note that when streaming a movie from Netflix, a two-hour movie uses 2 gB at standard definition and 6 gB at high defintion. With the 10 gB/month data cap, you can stream just TWO 100-minute HD movies and do NOTHING ESLE that month! (Now think about all the Internet users and devices in your household!) So the data cap here truly prevents you keep you from streaming video, like Netflix and YouTube, and certainly limits your ability to stream music, as well.)
      • good for those on a budget and using just one device at a time,
      • not good for streaming video — you'd hit the data cap VERY early in the month.
      • requires a two-year active commitment.
    • See their current plans and pricing here.
    • Installation:
      • A technician will install an antenna (usually a small dish approximately 16-inches in diameter) on or near your house or office.
      • The standard installation cost is $425, but a discount is available if you agree to a 12-month or 2-year commitment. ($199 with a 2-year commitment)
      • Approximately 20% of customers require more expensive equipment, for which there is an additional one-time cost of $150 to $250. This additional charge is based on the location and conditions at the customer's site, not the speed of the Internet service.
    • Compared to other Internet services:
      • The costs of their Premium and Standard plans are higher than standard cellular and satellite Internet, but the speeds are greater and there is virtually no data download limit (cap).
      • A really nice benefit of this Internet service is the very small latency, typically only about 30-50 milliseconds. This is much lower than that of satellite Internet — a typical Hughes customer can expect a latency of 600 to 1000 milliseconds. A large delay in the signal greatly affects interactive things like Skype, Facetime, and interactive online gaming.
      • This service is said to be more reliable than most other Internet services and approaches that of cable Internet.
    • They are a Michigan company based in Arcafia.

  • SyncWave –
    • Speeds are similar to standard DSL and satellite Internet.
    • See their current plans and pricing here.
    • Unlimited data transfer – there are no data transfer caps (as is typical with cellular and satellite Internet).
    • There are no long-term contracts (as is typical with cellular and satellite Internet).
    • Compared to other Internet services:
      • Costs are similar to cellular and satellite Internet.
      • If availablle, it's better choice over cellular and satellite Internet.
      • The connection should be more reliable and not variable like cellular and satellite Internet.
    • They are a Michigan company based in Scottville.

Bundles – There are none known from these companies.


See also these related Web sites:

  • Benzie County Alliance Network and Fact Sheet — serving Benzie County and portions of Leelanau and Manistee Counties.
  • BuyTelco – Compare Cable, DSL, and other high speed Internet Options - Find the best high speed Internet prices and solutions for those providers serving your neighborhood.

  • Connect Michigan - Increasing Broadband Access and Use – Working in partnership with the Michigan Public Service Commission to ensure that everyone in Michigan can experience the benefits of broadband Internet coverage. Find broadband (high-speed) Internet providers in your area.



Dial-up Service
(28.8 to 56 kbps)
Use the link below to verify a telephone exchange is local to your area to avoid unwanted toll or long distance charges

AT&T Phone Company: Find Your Local Calling Area

  • Most local phone companies offer dial-up service:
  • There are many regional and national ISPs that offer access in this area. Here are just a few:
    • 1010Internet - Based in Grand Rapids, MI.
    • CoreComm - Based in East Lansing, MI.
    • Dial In Free - Free unlimited dial-up service for Michigan residents. Provides Internet access, but no email. You must use your email provider's Web-mail based system, or use a free email account (like those from Hotmail, Yahoo, and Google – Gmail).
    • Earthlink - National ISP
    • LocalNet - Based in Buffalo, NY, with offices in MI and WI.
    • NetOne Communications - Based in Sears, MI.
    • PeoplePC - National ISP
    • Triton Technologies - Based in Grand Rapids, MI.
  • If you need more dial-up providers, go to Google and search for things like:


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