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Wisconsin leaders frustrated with lack of broadband service

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Northern Wisconsin leaders are frustrated by the lack of progress on providing access to broadband internet in the region.

Dan Corbin, chairman of the town of Summit, told Wisconsin Public Radio that residents in parts of Douglas County and the city of Superior have yet to see expanded broadband services.

“I’m lucky enough where I live I have the 25-megabit service,” Corbin said. “It’s very good, but you don’t have to get very far from there and that service goes down to 0.1 megabits.”

Superior City Councilman Tylor Elm said Superior residents who are paying the same rates as people in La Crosse are receiving slower internet service.

CenturyLink, the main internet provider in the region, said it is meeting timelines and requirements set by the Federal Communications Commission.

CenturyLink received $332 million in federal subsidies under the FCC’s Connect America Fund, which aims to provide high-speed internet to mostly rural areas. The money is meant to bring high-speed internet to more than 129,000 addresses in the state.

The company said it plans to expand service in Superior over the next several years.

CenturyLink will spend $12.3 million to expand broadband services to more than 5,250 homes and businesses in Douglas County by 2020, said Angie Dickison, Wisconsin state broadband director.

“Those are all governed and administered at the federal level by the FCC, but we are certainly keeping an eye on what’s happening there,” she said.

Companies must use a report due to the FCC this spring to certify the addresses that they’ve extended service to, she said.

The FCC will also have performance measures in place in June to assess the quality of the service that providers are offering. Companies that don’t meet the FCC’s guidelines will have to return money.

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