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Florence County nets grant for wireless service

MADISON — Florence County will receive $66,712 to help improve its wireless broadband service, one of 13 projects in Wisconsin slated to share $1.5 million in Broadband Expansion Grants. The Florence County project proposes to deploy a fixed wireless service from three towers, the Public Service Commission stated in announcing the grants, which are aimed at aiding underserved areas throughout the state. Matching funds for these projects amounted to $2,310,475, for a total of $3,810,475 in broadband infrastructure investment, the PSC said Friday.

“As broadband continues to become an increasingly integral part of our lives, I know that Wisconsin businesses and families will be well-served by these continued investments,” Gov. Scott Walker said in the joint announcement with the PSC. “Internet access is a critical component of education, telemedicine, e-commerce, agribusiness, and tourism, just to name a few. No corner of our state can be left behind.”

Walker created the Broadband Expansion Grant Program in the 2013-15 biennial budget and increased funding for the grants in the 2015-17 biennial budget from $500,000 to $1.5 million annually. The governor’s proposed 2017-19 biennial budget provides $11 million more for the program over the next several years. Among the other recipients in northern Wisconsin, ChoiceTel LLC will receive $72,846.40 to complete the construction of a fiber to the home service in the Town of Land O’Lakes in Vilas County, authorized in three grants in FY 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Also in Vilas County, SonicNet Inc. drew a $6,746 grant to install a fixed wireless service on a county-owned tower in the Town of Conover. The project will also build microwave links to other SonicNet tower locations.

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

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