May 26, 2022 — TDS Telecommunications LLC (TDS®) celebrated the start of construction on its all-fiber network in Eau Claire with a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday. TDS Telecom President and CEO Jim Butman was joined by City Council President Terry Weld, local chamber representatives, as well as state representatives Jesse James and Jodi Emerson, along with Executive Vice President Adria Horn from Tilson, TDS’ build partner. The event, held at the Phoenix Park pavilion area, is only a mile away from the first build area.
“On behalf of all of us at TDS, thank you for the warm welcome and for being with us today. We’re thrilled to be building a reliable, world-class fiber network in Eau Claire,” says Jim Butman, president and CEO of TDS. “We would not be here without the strong support of the community and we’re truly excited to bring a new competitive choice and super-fast connections to support Eau Claire’s continued success and growth.”
TDS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the city of Eau Claire in August of last year to construct a fiber-to-the-home network which is expected to reach more than 30,000 addresses. In April, the Madison-based company also announced it is also planning fiber projects in Altoona and Chippewa Falls to connect an additional 10,000 addresses to super-fast internet, TV, and phone.
“We’re investing half a billion dollars in Wisconsin to expand broadband access, and $100 million is just for the Chippewa Valley area,” says Butman.
The technology infrastructure, which relies on light to transmit data rather than electricity, will deliver up to 2Gig download and upload speeds for residents, and up to 10G dedicated connections for business. TDS also recently broke ground on a fiber network in Onalaska and completed builds in both Wausau and Stevens Point.
TDS’ construction partner, Tilson, has already begun pre-work on the project in the area surrounding Wilson Park. Construction and network access will happen in phases, as conduit, cable, and equipment hubs are placed in public utility easement areas. Residents can look for signs in their neighborhoods before construction begins, and they’ll also receive a postcard, letter, and door hanger notifying them of the upcoming work. Contractors will work to minimize disruptions to neighborhoods and restore any areas impacted by the burying of fiber-optic cable.
“In addition to being a celebration, today is homecoming of a sort. More than 20 TDS associates, including myself, are graduates of UW-Eau Claire which only makes us more delighted to make this investment in the community,” says Butman. “This network will enable economic and business development, and residents can enjoy best-in-class connections for school, work, and entertainment now and for years to come.”
Demand for high-speed data connections nationwide has only increased, particularly since companies began offering remote work options. According to a recent Fiber Broadband Association report, only about 43% of U.S. households have access to a fiber connection. Eau Claire, Altoona, and Chippewa Falls will now join that group.
TDS is quickly growing its fiber footprint in Wisconsin. The company is actively building networks in the Fox Cities of Appleton, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Little Chute, Menasha, and Neenah, as well as Green Bay and surrounding communities. The 53-year-old company operates in 32 states.
TDS will be hiring many positions in the area to support its growth into Eau Claire. The company also has a long history of philanthropy in the communities it serves, sponsoring local events, making donations, and giving its employees paid time off to volunteer.
Residents and businesses interested in learning more about TDS products can visit TDSFiber.com.