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Nearly 700 more homes in Vilas County will have high-speed internet next week, as broadband expansion efforts continue

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Nearly 700 homes and small businesses in the Eagle River area will soon have access to broadband. Spectrum just completed a $1.1 million fiber-optic network expansion in the area.

In the past decade, high-speed internet has become more of a necessity than a luxury. But it’s still lacking in many parts of the Northwoods.

That’s starting to change though.

Just this week, Spectrum completed a construction project to install about 25 miles of fiber-optic cable across the Silver Lake and Deerskin Lake areas in Vilas County.

Customers will be able to sign up for services as soon as next week.

Local lawmakers and community leaders celebrated the expansion at a ceremony Thursday.

“Broadband is like electricity was back in the 40s and 50s,” said state senator Mary Felzkowski. “We can’t live without broadband. We need it for our health care, we need it for our work, we need it for our education, and more than that, we need it for emergencies and recreation. It’s what’s going to drive economies of northern and rural Wisconsinites.”

She says public-private partnerships, like the one used to complete this project, will be essential to expanding broadband in the Northwoods.

“Broadband is not going to be solved by the government,” she said. “It’s going to be solved by private companies with the ability to go in and really do these types of expansions. When a company is willing to lay fiber right to the home, it just blows my mind because you don’t see that too often.”

As this project wraps up, several other projects to expand broadband are just beginning in Vilas County.

The county was recently awarded $5.4 million to expand internet access in Arbor Vitae, Conover, Presque Isle and the Town of Washington.

Erin Gottsacker joined WXPR in December 2020. As a Morning Edition host and reporter, Erin reports on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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