More than 200 Town of Bristol residents and 10 businesses will benefit from a $182,656 grant to expand broadband along Highway V.
Broadband access has been scrutinized since the pandemic as more people work and study from home and businesses and health care companies pivot to offering services online.
Studies and evidence this past year has spotlight inequities between the broadband haves and have-nots. Wisconsin rural communities are usually are the higher disadvantage with poor broadband access.
Last week the Public Service Commission announced the Town of Bristol broadband project at part of $28.4 million awarded in Wisconsin. Its the second round of funding to come out of the 2019-2021 biennium budget signed by Gov. Tony Evers that provided $48 million in broadband expansion funds.
Town of Bristol officials welcomed the news of the grant funding.
“The town board and residents have worked for a number of years to improved internet service,” said Bristol town chair Jerry Derr. “This grant announcement is great news for our area.”
The UpNetWI, LLC. project will build a Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) along County Highway V in the Town of Bristol in Dane County, and north along County Road N in the Town of Hampden in Columbia County.
Boosting broadband access across the state is a key element in the COVID-19 economic recovery, according to a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) report that was sent to Gov. Tony Evers and state lawmakers last June.
Its the second round of funding to come out of the 2019-2021 biennium budget signed by Gov. Tony Evers that provided $48 million in broadband expansion funds.
WEDC officials said a broadband fix is one of the top three priorities that also include getting people back to work and supporting innovation in businesses.
Lack of internet is placing some students at a disadvantage when it comes to learning online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wisconsin Rural Alliance reported challenges provide online learning in school districts where internet is not available or families could not afford it. The Federal Communication Commission reports that 7.1 percent of the state’s population lacks access to broadband service with a 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. The national average is 5.6 percent.