State organizations work to extend broadband access in six rural communities.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation stated that rural communities without broadband during the COVID-19 pandemic are disadvantaged as daily activities move online. Image courtesy of Nenad Stojkovic, licensed under Flickr.

Author: Jessica Gregory

Gov. Evers announced this morning that six communities in Wisconsin were selected for a program that will assist the areas in receiving extended access to affordable broadband service.

In coordination with the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the initiative Broadband Connectors Pilot seeks to support communities who need to apply for state and federal broadband funding.

Many communities who struggle to gain internet access experience the initial obstacle of accessing the resources needed to apply for funding. Broadband Connectors Pilot will help these areas overcome that first barrier and connect residents quickly. 

The selected Wisconsin communities are Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Ho-Chunk Nation, School District of Owen-Withee, Town of Cross, St. Croix County and Fond du Lac County.

These six communities have made noteable efforts to begin broadband expansion especially to areas that are underserved and have transparent goals they would like to achieve.

As businesses and residents in rural areas cope with and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, broadband access is a necessity as online communications are the primary platform for school, work and healthcare information.

Applicants were required to be a local government, tribal government or school district in order to secure eligibility. A total of 96 communities applied for the program and WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes expressed that rural Wisconsinites have consistently maintained that internet access is a top priority.

“This pilot program will provide us with important lessons on how we can better use existing resources to fill in the gaps in coverage and reach more communities,” Hughes said.