The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin awarded $7.6 million on Thursday to bolster the state’s high-speed-internet offerings — laying the groundwork for what would be the largest round of broadband expansion grants in state history.
The $7.6 million, which is being awarded through 46 separate grants, will be matched with $19.4 million worth of private money. The money will pay for extending high-speed internet access to as many as 1,600 businesses and 18,000 residences. The preliminary awards will be completed after PSC issues a written decision and a 10-day appeals process expires.
The projects approved on Thursday will help improve internet service in Buffalo and Walworth Counties and bolster internet infrastructure in many rural parts of the state, among other things.
Gov. Scott Walker also announced the opening of an application process for the next round of grants. The PSC has awarded 55 broadband expansion grants totaling $5.4 million since Walker took office.
“Broadband has endless potential to help Wisconsin communities,” Walker said. “Years ago, electricity revolutionized farming for my grandparents. Today broadband is revolutionizing education, health care, and business, and improving the quality of life for Wisconsin’s rural residents.”
The largest projects in this round of 46 grants include:
- Bertram Communications was awarded $600,000 to build a fixed wireless service throughout the northern towns of Oconto County. Bertram would build 5 new wireless towers and lease space on two others.
- UTELCO, doing business as TDS Telecom, was awarded $492,915 to build a DSL service to 26 nodes near Monticello, in Green County.
- Green County Development Corporation will get $414,234 to build build and equip four towers to provide a fixed wireless service in four towns in Green County.
- Wittenberg Telephone Company, doing business as Wittenberg Wireless, won a $390,011 grant to build a 20-mile fiber route in Langlade County along Highway 55 from Hollister to Pickerel.