Frontier Communications seeking state grant funding for Lincoln County broadband project

For the Tomahawk Leader

LINCOLN COUNTY – Frontier Communications has applied for state grant funding for a broadband internet project in Lincoln County.

Governor Tony Evers and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), on Wednesday, Nov. 15, announced that the Wisconsin Broadband Office (WBO) received 124 applications requesting $221.6 million for the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program.

A release from Evers’ office said PSC is expected to award up to $42 million under the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) to administer Broadband Infrastructure Grants and invest in broadband construction and deployment that will provide high-quality internet to locations that lack access to adequate, affordable service.

The ratio of requested funding to available funding is the highest for any grant round since the first in 2014, according to the release.

The release said CPF is “designed to address the barriers to internet access that existed before but were made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Broadband Infrastructure Grant funds will be used to make necessary investments in broadband infrastructure designed to provide consistent, reliable and high-performance broadband service to areas most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in Wisconsin,” the release stated.

The funding is available to construct broadband infrastructure projects to deploy reliable internet service that will meet or exceed 100/100 Megabits per second (Mbps) symmetrical speed internet service and include at least one low-cost option for work, education and health monitoring.

Frontier Communications submitted applications for 12 projects, one of which is in Lincoln County. The project will utilize fiber to the premisis (FTTP) service to reach 181 residential locations and four businesses in the City of Merrill and the Town of Pine River. Frontier requested $499,446.00 and pledged $404,908.00 for the project, which will utilize nine miles of fiber, according to data from WBO.

Frontier is also seeking grant dollars for several projects in Marathon County, while Cirrinity has applied for funding for a Langlade County project. Funds are being sought by Bug Tussel for work in Taylor County, according to WBO.

During the application review, PSC will evaluate each grant based on, among other factors, affordability of service, project design and technology, applicant capacity to complete the work and community engagement and support.

PSC is expected to announce grant recipients by spring 2024.

“The Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program will help build upon our progress to connect over 395,000 homes and businesses to new or improved high-speed internet by helping close the digital divide in communities that have long struggled with inadequate service,” Evers stated. “That said, clearly, the need far outweighs the resources available, and we must keep making meaningful state investments to prioritize and invest in the robust broadband infrastructure needed to meet our state’s 21st-century needs.”

“I want to thank Governor Evers for his ongoing commitment to addressing the internet access and affordability challenges in our state,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “We know that continued investments are necessary to meet the clear, consistent demand for broadband infrastructure and help us connect more communities as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.”

A list of Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program applicants is available at

A flag map of proposed project areas is available at

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