Member Spotlight - Northern Michigan University

Since the 1980s, Northern Michigan University on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been the source of many groundbreaking projects in educational broadcasting and technology. In 1998, NMU’s Teaching, Learning, and Communication (TLC) initiative began equipping each student with a ThinkPad notebook computer, software, and support as part of tuition and fees. In 2009, the program expanded to include EBS spectrum-enabled broadband connectivity via the University’s self-deployed WiMAX network. In 2016, NMU launched its Educational Access Network (EAN), which brings course content and network connectivity to students across the Upper Peninsula, including many in underserved communities.  When fully deployed in 2019, EAN will serve over 100 municipalities throughout the region. It has been recognized on a national level for its innovation and service to the citizens of the Upper Peninsula region.

NMU’s Eric Smith, who recently joined NEBSA’s Board of Directors, is also Director of Broadcasting and Audiovisual services at Northern Michigan University and General Manager of WNMU-TV. He is currently serving a third term as president of the Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters (MAPB). NMU staff routinely attended NEBSA annual meetings to connect with other EBS licensees and learn more about industry best practices and regulatory issues. Smith says, “As our deployment and use of EBS spectrum increased, NEBSA became increasingly important in making sure we understood all of the relevant issues associated with this wireless band...we benefited greatly from the work NEBSA was doing.” Two years ago, Smith says, “We also decided that sharing our experiences with fellow members would help others around the country understand that self-deployment was now a viable way to use EBS spectrum...a membership decision at that point became easy, and we joined.”

NEBSA, he says, has helped NMU understand that “every EBS licensee has unique circumstances in their quest to deliver education to the community they serve.  Whether it’s through leasing, cooperative ventures with others, or self-deployment, the 2.5Ghz band offers flexibility in bringing broadband technology to those who need it most.  NEBSA is well positioned to help coordinate these efforts and everyone benefits when these issues are discussed with a common voice.”