TDS Telecom has been awarded more than $2 million for two broadband projects in Wisconsin. The broadband funding was made available to the state through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The ARPA broadband funding awards were made by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. In all, the commission selected 83 projects from 242 applications. The two TDS applications chosen, which total $2.032 million, are for projects in Potosi ($943,333) and Necedah ($1,088,791).
The ARPA directed a pool of money to each state, and each state was allowed to use it for a variety of purposes. Wisconsin directed $100 million in funding to broadband.
TDS now will executive grant agreements with the state. The program mandates that projects be completed by December 31, 2024. TDS plans to begin construction “as early as next spring.”
The job of bringing high speed broadband to the state is not done, however.
“I want to thank the commissioners for identifying these areas as essential for broadband expansion,” Drew Petersen, TDS’ senior vice president of corporate relations, said in a press release about the ARPA broadband funding. “However, even with today’s grants, too many areas of Wisconsin still don’t have adequate internet; more public and private investments will be needed.”
A report from the Pew Charitable Trusts in May tracked the growth of state-level broadband support programs last year. Pew found that 12 state legislatures allocated money to broadband funds or other state entities. The allocations were between $1.5 million and $51 million. Wisconsin and other states established tasks forces that will lead and administer deployment programs.
Most states seem to be heeding the call to build broadband networks. In June, more research from Pew found that 40 states have broadband funds. The exceptions are North Dakota, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Hawaii. In addition, only Kentucky, New Hampshire and Mississippi don’t have state broadband agencies. Federal initiatives — the CARES Act, ARPA and the Broadband Infrastructure Program – are helping to drive activity at the state level.
Another service provider that was awarded funding by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is Midco, which in April was awarded $83,169.