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Wisconsin Awarded More Than a Billion Dollars in Federal Funding for Broadband – County Announces Next Steps

Wisconsin has been awarded $1.05 billion to improve the state’s broadband infrastructure.

States, D.C. and territories will use funding from the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to administer grant programs within their borders. All US states and territories have been awarded at least some funding, with 19 states set to receive more than $1 billion to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet service.

The BEAD program marks one of the largest-ever infusions of federal money for bringing disconnected households and businesses online.

“This is great news for Wisconsin and Jefferson County,” says Ben Wehmeier, Jefferson County Administrator. “Investing in broadband is an investment in the future, enabling the true potential of rural areas to be realized and ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital divide.”

Thrive Economic Development President Deb Reinbold notes the necessity of broadband.

“In today’s interconnected world, broadband is not just a luxury, it’s a lifeline, especially for rural communities,” says Reinbold. “Broadband is a catalyst for economic growth, education and healthcare advancements. It unlocks possibilities, ensuring that Greater Jefferson County can participate fully in the digital age.”

The funding announcement comes a month after the Federal Communications Commission released updated national broadband maps that give a more complete picture of high-speed internet availability across the United States. The new maps provide information about internet connectivity at a granular level, whereas previous maps assessed connectivity only at a census-block level. The new maps show that more than 8.3 million homes and businesses in the US lack access to high-speed broadband.

As part of its commitment to making high-speed internet accessible and affordable for all Jefferson County residents, the county will engage with the public and other stakeholders to define the need, vision and strategy for deployment of broadband within the county, which will include survey instruments to be conducted in the next 45 days. This engagement will inform the development of the state’s Five-Year Action Plan to assist in prioritizing where the $1 billion will be invested and serve as a roadmap to the implementation of high-speed internet for all.

The official press release listing awards for all states and territories can be read here.

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