Wisconsin to receive more than $1 billion in federal funds for broadband expansion

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

WISCONSIN – More than $1 billion in federal funds will be allocated to Wisconsin for the purpose of expanding access to broadband internet in the state.

On Monday, June 26, President Joe Biden’s administration announced that more than $40 billion had been earmarked for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories.

The funds come from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by Biden in 2021.

Wisconsin is slated to receive a total of $1,055,823,573.71.

A release from the office of Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said the funding will be awarded to the state in two stages. First, 20% of the state’s allocation will be awarded with initial competitive subgrants expected in summer 2024, and the remaining 80% is anticipated to be awarded in 2025.

The state will be principally responsible for administering awarded funds, with priority going to projects that bring broadband to unserved households and businesses lacking access to high-speed internet, according to the release.

Funding allocations rely on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Map, which shows broadband availability – or lack thereof – across the country, based on reports from internet service providers made to the FCC every six months.

The public has the opportunity to challenge potentially incorrect data on the map, such as a missing location or if a location’s broadband service is incorrectly identified. 

“After hearing from Wisconsin community members and stakeholders of inaccurate data in the FCC’s original National Broadband Map, Senator Baldwin successfully ‘badgered the FCC’ – after repeated calls  – to correct the map’s broadband availability information to ensure Wisconsin gets its fair share of federal broadband funding in the future,” the release stated.

“I voted for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law because it is helping deliver affordable, reliable high-speed internet to Wisconsin families, students, small businesses, and farmers,” Baldwin said. “No matter where you live in the state, you deserve access to reliable high-speed broadband, and these resources will help us do that. This investment will help close the digital divide so Wisconsinites can fully participate in the economy, kids can get the education they deserve, and families can connect with people across the world. This is an investment in our Wisconsin families. This is an investment in our Made in Wisconsin economy. And this is an investment in our future – and I am proud to help deliver it.”

“Nearly everything about our way of life in this day and age depends upon access to reliable, high-speed internet, and we have work to do to ensure our infrastructure, our workforce and our economy are prepared for the 21st century,” Governor Tony Evers stated. “I’m proud that no administration in state history has done more than we have to expand access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet in Wisconsin, and thanks to this more than $1 billion investment from the Biden Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), we’ll be able to build upon our progress in getting folks connected and closing the digital divide in every corner of our state.”

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