Kewaunee County wins $1.3 million state grant for broadband expansion project
KEWAUNEE – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin awarded Kewaunee County a $1.3 million broadband expansion grant that brings the county close to completely funding its ongoing project to make high-speed internet more widely accessible for local residents and businesses.
Funds from this grant will be used by Bug Tussel Wireless LLC, the Green Bay-based internet services company working with the county on the project, to lay fiber-optic cable in the southern half of the county. That work will complete a 62.5-mile route to help connect wireless broadband towers and complete a “middle mile” fiber ring for improved support. Bug Tussel currently is laying fiber in the northern part of the county.
When completed, the project will offer broadband service to almost 200 businesses and more than 12,000 residential locations within its footprint as well as in Mishicot in Manitowoc County.
Currently, eight of 10 planned towers are up and running with a ninth in Norman, in the town of Carlton, expected to go live later this month. The county and Bug Tussel are working to finalize a site in Tisch Mills for the 10th tower. It is hoped all of the fiber will be installed by 2024.
This is the fourth grant the county has received since 2018 from PSC for broadband expansion and the second-largest of the four. PSC awarded the county $1.4 million last year, $960,000 in 2020 and $40,000 in 2018, and this new grant brings the total from the PSC to $3.7 million.
The county launched its initiative to expand high-speed internet access in 2016, when it was made known that federal and state grant opportunities for broadband were becoming available, and a contract with Bug Tussel was approved in 2020. The county's goal has been to fund as much of the project as possible with grants, and the $3.7 million from the PSC grants is close to the current estimated project cost of $4 million.
“When we first started, the county, along with Hilbert Communications, the parent company of Bug Tussel Wireless, set a goal to acquire as much grant funding as we possibly could to pay for the project, and we’re making it happen," County Administrator Scott Feldt said. "This effort is projected to provide broadband coverage to nearly 90% of the county, and that’s a game changer.”
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected]
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This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Kewaunee County wins $1.3 million state grant for broadband expansion project