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Vilas County Board Learns More About Broadband Expansion Program Options

Ken Anderson

Understanding the terminology, technology, and cost of bringing faster broadband service to Vilas County was explained to the county board of supervisors last week by Bill Niemuth, a director with the county economic development corporation.

Niemuth explained the reason to invest in broadband is to improve the economy via remote workers but in rural areas installing broadband service can be expensive.

“We presently have the towns of Washington, Lincoln, Land O’ Lakes and the city of Eagle River best positioned for broadband expansion with Lac du Flambeau and Plum Lake having the most opportunity to improve,” Niemuth said. “Our proposal is to have the county develop a competitive broadband expansion grant fund designating from one million to 10 million dollars over five years.”

He envisioned the county board finance committee score the grant applications and provide recommendations to the full county board. All grants would be capped at $250,000 per project with preference to projects with speeds of 100Mbps or greater in conjunction with internet service providers.

Local jurisdictions would have to provide a match of at least 10% of the grant request.

“This would be unique and used to market Vilas County as a broadband destination,” Niemuth said.

Although most supervisors acknowledge broadband speed is needed, they questioned where the county money would come from.

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