Governor Scott Walker Touts $1.5 Million in Broadband Expansion Grants, Stops in Antigo, Cable, and Land O’Lakes
Governor Walker Awards Grants to Wittenberg Wireless, LLC, Norvado, and ChoiceTel, LLC
For Antigo Times
Madison – Governor Scott Walker joined the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) in announcing $1.5 million in Broadband Expansion Grants. Governor Walker traveled throughout the Northwoods to award grants to Wittenberg Wireless, LLC in Antigo, Norvado in Cable, and ChoiceTel, LLC in Land O’Lakes. The grants are being matched by Wisconsin businesses, non-profits, and local governments, which benefit thousands of citizens throughout the state. The Broadband Expansion Grants announced this week are a part of the Broadband Expansion Grant Program.
“We’ve heard from business leaders around the state, especially in Northern Wisconsin, that a major hurdle to economic development in their communities is minimal access to high speed internet,” Governor Walker said. “We are dedicated to growing our economy and ensuring it remains strong, and by tripling the funding for broadband grants in our most recent budget, we’re working to ensure that goal is a reality. The bottom line is that these grants help us level the playing field in terms of economic development in the underserved areas of our state with limited access to broadband internet.”
Wittenberg Wireless, LLC was awarded two grants through the Broadband Expansion Program. First, the Village of Mattoon Broadband Over Fiber Project was awarded a $70,000 grant. The project is a partnership between Wittenberg Wireless, LLC and the village of Mattoon, where there is currently no high-speed broadband available. The grant will help Wittenberg Wireless, LLC to provide fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband to a majority of the village’s homes, businesses, and students. The second grant of $150,000 was awarded to Wittenberg Wireless, LLC for the Silver Birch Ranch Fiber Project, which allows them to serve the approximately 300 current households and seasonal residences in and beyond the Silver Birch Ranch Camp area. Wittenberg Wireless, LLC will be matching the grant for both projects.
Norvado was awarded a $98,000 grant, which will go towards building a fiber route to serve over 65 locations in and around Cable. Norvado will match the grant, and the township of Cable will also contribute an additional $5,000 towards the project as well as provide future support for the grant by securing easements and use of rights of way.
ChoiceTel, LLC received a $249,093 grant which will be utilized to build an 18-mile fiber optic route to serve locations in Conover and Land O’Lakes. The two-phase project will serve over 150 businesses and 1,300 homes in the area, and has potential for further buildout. ChoiceTel, LLC will partner with the township of Land O’Lakes to match the grant by providing the remaining project cost. Land O’Lakes also plans to contribute a small area of land under an easement to ChoiceTel, LLC.
The Broadband Grant Program was created by Governor Walker in the 2011-13 biennial budget. This year, Governor Walker increased funding for broadband expansion grants in the 2015-17 biennial budget from $500,000 to $1.5 million annually. The grants provide reimbursement for equipment and construction expenses incurred to extend or improve broadband telecommunications services in underserved regions of Wisconsin. An additional $6 million is allocated from the Universal Service Fund (USF) cash reserves to fund the grants for the next four years. In shifting from continuing appropriation of funding to biennial appropriation, the grants are allowed greater flexibility and enable grant recipients to prioritize investments and meet higher capacity demands in the future. The $1.5 million in grants announced today, combined with funds matched by businesses, non-profits, and local governments, will equal a total investment of approximately $5.5 million to expand broadband service in Wisconsin.