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Boulder Junction Earns State’s Largest Broadband Grant

Ben Meyer/WXPR

This month, construction work will ramp up in Boulder Junction.

It’s a tangible step toward providing fiberoptic broadband service to hundreds of homes and businesses in the town.

But that’s not the only good new broadband advocates in Boulder Junction got recently.

Fifty-eight broadband expansion projects across the state were awarded grant funding by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Out of those 58, Boulder Junction got the largest award, claiming $2.2 million to fund Phase 2 of its broadband expansion plan.

Combined with state money it got for Phase 1, the town has now been awarded more than $3.8 million.

“The week leading up to the announcement, we just started to get the instinct that maybe we were a good enough application that we would be fully funded. Lo and behold, on the 19th of March, we learned that we were fully funded,” said Bill Niemuth of the Boulder Junction High Speed Broadband Expansion Committee.

The current phase, Phase 1, will provide broadband to 745 homes and businesses in Boulder Junction.

The connection speed will be at or above that found in major urban areas, and the first homes should have service this summer.

Phase 2 will commence after that, covering the remaining 604 living units.

Niemuth said the project wouldn’t be possible without a major team effort.

“[We received] area support from our elected officials, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Vilas County Economic Development Corporation, just an incredibly long list of individuals and organizations that supported our two grant applications. We couldn’t be more pleased,” he said.

The Town of Boulder Junction has also kicked in more than $1 million of its own money for the project.

Gov. Tony Evers wants to spend $200 million on broadband in 2021, which he declared the “Year of Broadband” in Wisconsin.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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