Wisconsin awards $125M in rural internet service grants to homes

MJ Electric workers trench fiber optic cable in rural Marathon County near Marathon City in May.  The Public Service Commission says approximately 650,000 people in the state lack home internet access of 25 megabit per second downloads and 3 Mbps uploads, fast enough for streaming a video or taking an online class, but still a struggle for families with several people online at the same time.  MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE SENTINEL JOURNAL

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has awarded $125 million in broadband expansion grants for 71 projects aimed at reaching around 83,000 homes and 4,600 businesses.

The projects will impact 45 counties, according to the PSC, bringing new or improved internet access to unserved and underserved areas.

Altogether there were 194 applications requesting more than $495 million in funding. A screening panel reviewed each application, assigned a score and then the commissioners made the final decisions.

“We will continue to make the investments needed to ensure all in our state have access to affordable broadband,” PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq said in a statement Thursday.

Bug Tussel, a rural internet service provider based in Green Bay, was awarded around $20 million to expand service in Jefferson, Clark, Lincoln, Marathon, Green Lake, Rock, and other counties.

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