Grant Boosts Broadband at White Lake

A public-private partnership will extend broadband services to over 100 households and businesses in the White Lake area.

This week, Gov. Scott Walker joined the Public Service Commission to announce a total of $1,500,000 in Broadband Expansion Grants, including a $94,000 stipend to Wittenberg Telephone Company for the extension of fiber optic cables from Highway 64 south into the village of White Lake.

“This is a huge opportunity,” Wittenberg Telephone CEO Al Mahnke said, adding that the extension of highspeed Internet into the rural area will aid businesses, law enforcement, education and households throughout the region.

“Access to broadband internet is a crucial part of Wisconsin’s infrastructure,” Walker said. “These Broadband Expansion Grants are an important investment and help make sure our communities have the infrastructure needed to support reliable access to the Internet. We know fast Internet connection ultimately helps employers find workers to fill their open positions, improves the quality of education for our students, and encourages Wisconsin businesses to grow.”

Last year, Wittenberg Telephone received a state grant to extend the service along Highway 64 from Elton to the Highway 64-55 intersection and north to Silver Birch Ranch. The new project is a build-on to that effort and will stretch the cable 3 1/2 to 4 miles south into the village. It also involves adding capabilities to allow lake residents to receive high-speed wireless access.

Mahnke said the project’s total cost is $189,000. In addition to the state grant, it also received $1,000 from Skarlupka Manufacturing and a $5,000 in-kind donation from Robbins Flooring, which is allowing placement of the wireless terminal on its property.

“It’s a very nice partnership,” he said.

Other projects across the northwoods include:

—CenturyLink: $134,625 for a project in Oconto County; and $25,000 to provide broadband service to Big Top Chautauqua and adjacent areas of Bayfield County.

—ChoiceTel, LLC: $131,475.10 for a project in Land O’Lakes in Vilas County.

—Iron County Resource Development Association: $79,101.30 for a project in Iron County.

—Oneida County Economic Development Corporation:$180,566 for a project in Oneida County.

State Senator Tom Tiffany applauded the awards, noting that over a third of the grant dollars going to projects in the 12th Senate District, which he represents,

“These projects will bring high speed Internet to homes and businesses that currently have limited or no service.” Tiffany said. “Rural broadband is a key to economic viability and a must for educational opportunities going forward. These grants will allow CenturyLink in Oneida County, ChoiceTel in Vilas County, the Oneida County Economic Development Corporation and Wittenberg Telephone Company to expand into underserved areas and bring new opportunities to the region.”

Walker created the Broadband Expansion Grant Program in the 2011-13 biennial budget and increased funding for the grants in the 2015-17 biennial budget from $500,000 to $1.5 million annually.

The Broadband Expansion Grants provide reimbursement for equipment and construction expenses incurred by efforts to extend or improve broadband telecommunications services in underserved regions of Wisconsin.

Source: Antigo Daily Journal