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Rural Stevens Point residents eager for expanded broadband service

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Updated: Fri 6:02 PM, Aug 04, 2017

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) — Hundreds of residents in Portage County will be getting better internet service thanks to a grant. The Town of Hull was awarded a grant from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Welcome news to those that live just miles away from Stevens Point.

Rural Stevens Point Residents Eager For Expanded Broadband Service

Sara Brish lives in the Town of Hull and is not happy with the poor internet service.

“It’s frustrating. So much so that we’ve talked about relocating to other areas in Portage County,” she explained. She’s a wife, mom and the executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. She needs quality internet access for not only personal use, but also so she can work from home if needed.

Brish is one of 200 residents and seven businesses in the Town of Hull who will be getting better service.

“I’m excited about it because when you don’t have fast, reliable internet it dampers everything you do,” she said. General manager of Amherst Telephone Company Rick Letto is working on the project. He was at Friday’s listening session in Wausau with Sen. Ron Johnson, Congressman Sean Duffy and AG Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Sen. Johnson said that’s why they’re holding listening sessions across the state, in order to ask the right questions to make rural broadband more efficient for residents.

“How much is it going to take to really expand that access? So, it’s going to be from my standpoint a really organized approach to make sure we can get this right,” Sen. Johnson said. And while those living in the Town of Hull reap the immediate benefits of improved access, many feel it benefits the county as a whole.
“It shows that your community is moving forward. And is going to have a lot to offer. And quality of life is an important element when individuals are looking to relocate or stay, or businesses are looking to relocate or stay,” said Todd Kuckkahn, executive director of Portage County Business Council.

According to the FCC, just three percent of people in urban areas lack access to broadband. That jumps to 35 percent in rural areas — some 22-million people. The Amherst Telephone Company received $170,000 to aid in the broadband expansion.

The project proposes to build a fiber to the home service in rural Portage County, northeast of Stevens Point.

The 18 mile fiber route will build past 207 residential and business locations in the Towns of Hull and Dewey.

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