More than $2 million in state and federal grants to expand broadband are going to projects in Kenosha County, improving internet access for thousands of residents in rural areas and underserved.
Both grants were awarded by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. The federal grant is modeled after the American Rescue Plan Act. In total, between state-funded projects and federally-funded projects, 154 grants were awarded in 2022 across Wisconsin.
The larger of the two grants, more than $1.2 million in public funds, will go to Frontier North for an $8.1 million project, bringing high-speed internet services to 3,709 locations in unserved areas and underserved. The spending will fund projects in Bristol, Salem, Silver Lake, Trevor and Twin Lakes. The project should be completed within two years.
Allison Ellis, senior vice president of regulatory and government affairs at Frontier, said the project is part of Frontier’s new vision to “build gigabit America.”
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“When Wisconsin announced its grant program, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to combine our program with the state program,” Ellis said.
According to Frontier’s grant application, approximately 75% of the locations that will be affected by the project are currently unserved.
County Supervisor Mark Nordigian, who chairs the Kenosha County Council’s Public Works and Facilities Committee and whose district will benefit from the upgrades, praised the project.
“This grant and significant investment from Frontier North means a lot to many households in my district and beyond who can no longer receive broadband. I know many people and businesses will appreciate this opportunity,” said Nordigian.
In a letter supporting Frontier’s bid, Bristol administrator Randy Kerkman said the village had unserved and underserved areas that would be able to support remote working, learning and socializing opportunities. for young and older residents.
“The pandemic has made it clear to everyone what we already know well in our community – high-speed broadband is essential for work, school, commerce, healthcare, entertainment and so much more. “, said Kerkman.
The second grant, $872,171 paid with federal funds, will go to a $3.6 million Spectrum project in Paris, Brighton and parts of Bristol. It will connect 918 homes and small businesses to a planned 80-mile fiber optic network infrastructure.
Kim Haas, senior director of communications at Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, said the project is another “step forward in Spectrum’s efforts” to provide Wisconsin residents with fast, reliable broadband service through local and state partnerships.
“Projects like this, which bring Spectrum’s high-speed broadband to unserved or underserved communities, can be a game-changer by opening up new opportunities in work, education and healthcare for families and small businesses,” Haas said.
The project is currently underway with construction crews commencing construction walkout and engineering design.
County Executive Samantha Kerkman hailed the positive impacts improved internet access would have for western Kenosha County.
“Access to reliable high-speed internet is so essential these days, and I look forward to seeing more of these investments to fill our service gaps across the county,” Kerkman said.
More information on grants can be found on the PSC website with specific information under Broadband Grant Programs.