Last week the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) released the latest numbers and results for the broadband expansion, using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies from the federal level. Recipients of Broadband Access Grants were awarded a total of $99,932,502 for 83 projects statewide, meant to expand fiber broadband internet to more than 28,426 residential and 1,490 business locations currently unserved and underserved. The grant awardees will provide matching funds of $101,942,388. 

“Expanding reliable, high-speed internet access remains a top priority for our state and we continue to move quickly to get federal funding allocated so construction on these projects can begin as soon as possible,” Governor Tony Evers said. “Since 2019, with state and federal dollars we’ve approved projects that will connect over 300,000 homes and businesses with access to new or improved broadband. We are making sure our communities bounce back better from the pandemic.” 

Earlier this year, the PSC allocated $129 million in state grant funding over the next two years for broadband expansion.

“The lack of broadband access in our state makes essential services and resources out of reach for many Wisconsinites, which made the pandemic nearly unmanageable,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “These projects put Wisconsin one step closer towards closing the digital divide.” 

Senator Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) also praised the PSC awards:

"In order for rural areas to live up to their full economic potential, they must have access to high-quality broadband. Without access, rural areas will be left behind. Families and businesses should have reliable internet available no matter where they choose to live and work," Stafsholt said. “Throughout the pandemic, it was emphasized just how much broadband affects our lives in everything from small businesses, people working from home, kids trying to do their homework or just communicating with friends and families.”  

The grants are funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for projects that will be completed by December 31, 2024. Internet service providers, telecommunications utilities, cooperatives, local governments, and for-profit and non-profit organizations were eligible to apply. The PSC evaluated broadband projects based on applicant capacity, capability, performance, project budget, proposed matching funds and the proposed service area’s existing broadband service needs.  

Burnett County had four projects approved:

- Grantsburg Telcom – $223,530. The project will utilize a Fiber to the Premise service to reach 45 residential locations in the Town of Anderson.

- Grantsburg Telcom – $251,545. Clam River – Phase 1. This project will utilize a Fiber to the Premise service to reach 35 residential locations in the Town of Union.

- Siren Telcom # 1 - $421,948. This project will utilize a Fiber to the Premise service to reach one business and 247 residential locations in the Town of Jackson.

- Siren Telcom #2 - $252,264. This project will utilize a Fiber to the Premise service to reach 10 businesses and 152 residential locations in the Town of Oakland. 

- With information from the PSC