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Upper Peninsula 911 Service: Opportunity in the Technical Economy

Collaboration furthers connectivity to drive next generation emergency management services

UPPER PENINSULA – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is often recognized for its remote recreation opportunities and panoramic views. However, just like any place, there is a risk that a planned adventure can lead to an unplanned emergency. Enter Peninsula Fiber Network (PFN) which recognized the importance of being able to connect 911 calls across the U.P. in an efficient and reliable manner through the development and application of an innovative fiber technology that is leading the entire state in emergency call management, illustrating why the Upper Peninsula is well poised to lead rural regions in building out a digital economy.

This initiative began in 2014 when PFN was approached by Tim McKee, the Director of the Eastern U.P. Dispatch Group and asked if next generation 911 calls would be viable on the PFN fiber network. PFN not only accepted the challenge but worked with two 100-year-old communication companies, the Hiawatha Telephone Company and the Baraga Telephone Company, to build out a fiber network which stretched from Sault Ste. Marie to Ontonagon to Iron Mountain. This partnership created the necessary foundation for 911 authorities in the U.P. to utilize computer assisted dispatch for a better, more accurate, and more connected system for emergency responses to calls. With an end result of all eight 911 public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the Upper Peninsula being on the next generation system.

“This connectivity would not be possible without the cooperation between the counties across the U.P. The U.P. spirit of working together, that we are one community, was the foundation for this initiative to take off,” states Dave McCartney, General Manager of PFN. He continues, “We may have the smallest percentage of the State’s population, but when it comes to coming together to support and find a solution, that is where the U.P. communities excel.”

As a leader in technology and innovation, Peninsula Fiber Network is continuing to look to the next generation in 911 technology. “Next up is sending photos and video through the system. This technology would help with investigations done by the police,” states McCartney. He also discussed the importance and technical advantage of the 911 texting technology available across the Upper Peninsula, “In a situation with very low to zero service, where a call cannot be placed, those out in the woods or on the water can still reach 911 dispatch via text. Only a small fraction of the signal required for a call is needed for a text, which is helpful for those enjoying remote outdoor recreation in the Upper Peninsula.”

The collaborative and cooperative nature that was critical to PFN’s success when combined with robust fiber availability, thought leadership through engaged universities, and a strong workforce make the Upper Peninsula uniquely situated to lead the digital economy and further technological advances.

About InvestUP
InvestUP is a private sector-led economic development organization keenly focused on driving economic growth across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Founded by the region’s leading private sector businesses and the region’s universities, its mission is to deliver business and job growth across the peninsula.

About Peninsula Fiber Network LLC (PFN)
PFN was formed by Baraga Telephone Company and Hiawatha Communications, Inc in 2006. The two companies realized a need for high speed optical transport throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. PFN now provides transmission services through the entire Upper Peninsula, Northern Lower Peninsula, Northern WI and into Eastern MN. PFN’s parent companies have in excess of 190 combined years of operational experience in bringing transmission services to the rural telecommunications marketplace.

As a part of our commitment to the Upper Peninsula, we collaborate with partners to share some of the most compelling stories about business and job growth across the region. Our goal through these stories is to get at the heart of what makes the U.P. unique — and to ensure these stories travel beyond our peninsula and broadly illustrate why the UP is the place to live and work.

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