High-capacity Internet access will be improved in five pilot communities thanks to $32.3 million in federal grants announced today by the University of Wisconsin-Extension Provost and Vice Chancellor Christine J. Quinn. UW-Extension led the grant application process.
The larger of the two grants will provide $29.9 million to expand broadband connections for public safety agencies, health care providers, schools and community organizations in Platteville, Wausau, Superior and the Chippewa Valley region. A separate $2.4 million grant will support education and outreach in the same four communities and the Menominee Nation.
In a written statement, Governor Jim Doyle said, “Access to quality broadband service and training are critical to the future of the state’s commerce and education system. The expansion of the state’s broadband network means that fewer rural residents will be at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing the ever-increasing network of information and services available exclusively on the Internet.”
In announcing the grants, Quinn said that UW-Extension’s role was to facilitate partnerships among the public and private interests and to promote community engagement. “This effort is community driven. This is a wonderful example of the Wisconsin Idea at work,” she said.
In addition to the UW-Extension, statewide public and private partners include the University of Wisconsin System, WiscNet, CCI Systems Inc., the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. Each of the five locations also has local partners that have contributed time and money to the project.
The grants were awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grants were announced today during a live video conference between The Pyle Center in Madison and four of the participating communities across the state.