Several Wisconsin counties will benefit from federal funding aimed at expanding broadband access in rural areas.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding a combined $25.2 million to help bring high speed Internet to Adams, Marquette, and Sauk Counties. The funding will be used to build out infrastructure to rural areas.
Thad Nation with Wired Wisconsin says the effort will help about 17,000 people who currently currently lack broadband services. About 20-percent of the state currently doesn’t have broadband capabilities, although Nation says efforts are underway to change that. He compares it to efforts to bring electricity to rural areas during the Great Depression.
The largest hurdle to bringing broadband to rural areas is the cost associated with putting in the fiber optic infrastructure. Nation says grants, such as the funding from USDA, helps to give businesses the needed push to expand further. He says the first goal is getting access out to places such as schools and hospitals. After that, reaching privates residences becomes much more cost effective.