The state is launching the next round of the State Broadband Expansion Grant Program, making $100 million available to applicants.
The money comes from the 2021-23 biennial budget, which provided $129 million over the biennium for expanding high-speed broadband internet to unserved or underserved areas of the state.
The purpose of the State Broadband Expansion Grant Program is to deploy high performance broadband in underserved areas of the state. Since the inception of the program in 2014, 268 grants have been awarded and have connected or are in the process of connecting over 20,000 businesses and 296,000 homes to high-speed broadband internet service.
In addition to the State Broadband Expansion Grant Program, with funding from the federal CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act, the Public Service Commission awarded over $105 million for 94 projects spanning 42 counties and three tribal communities.
Evers says he declared 2021 the Year of Broadband Access because the coronavirus pandemic further deepened the digital divide in Wisconsin and underscored the need for high-speed, affordable internet for everyone in the state.
“Whether it’s going to school, working from home, or running a small business, broadband is essential to ensuring our families, communities, and our state bounce back from this pandemic even better than we were before it hit,” he says.
Altogether, the 2019, 2020 and 2021 state broadband expansion grants and efforts funded using federal funds for broadband grants have provided or are going to provide more than 300,000 homes and businesses with access to new or improved service, according to the guv’s office.