"I’ve got a little girl that goes to Mason County Eastern. We’ve had her stay home for the year. Right now, we have a Verizon Jetpack. We do have a pretty good driveway. It's in the back of Long Lake, and fortunately we do have good phone service. We don’t have a land line. We all have cell phones. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn't have anything," said Ed Vander Ploeg.
"Spectrum stops at the top of the hill and not down the private road. I did approach Spectrum, and I'm one of four neighbors who don't have internet. When I explained the situation to them, they came out here (for an estimate). They wanted $13,000 to run Spectrum. It was crazy. We can’t do that. I'm 800 feet (off of the public road); the other neighbors are beyond me. It’s like a quarter mile to the end."
The Vander Ploegs have two children, and the oldest is a student at Michigan State. The oldest daughter has stayed in the East Lansing area primarily because of the internet service.
"When she does come and visit and tries to do stuff online, it will stop and freeze up. it’s not reliable (for her) to stay here. If we had decent internet service, she's be here. We’re basically paying for rent for her to stay down in Lansing for internet service," he said.
The family looked at getting Syncwave, but obstructions were in the way that prevented the company's signal from reaching their home. They also didn't want to use satellite internet.
"It’s a little frustrating," Vander Ploeg said. "We had (our daughter) just stay home maybe because we're concerned more than just other parents. She’s in ninth grade and in graduating class of 40, she’s one out of four (that stuck with remote learning). We didn’t know (how it was going to work) and we're a bit skeptical. My wife has Type II diabetes and we're concerned about bringing it home."
The family moved from the Grand Haven area to out by Long Lake in Branch Township, and so far, the Verizon Jetpacks have made up for the gigabytes of service that they worked with after using their phones as hotspots.
"It’s definitely not face-to-face learning. We just did it for our family. It’s worked out pretty good for us… We have unlimted voice, text and data, and per phone, you get 15 gigs of hotspot. (My daughter) had times where she’s burned that up. You get one these Jetpacks then get 30 gigs of hotspot."