Many people take high-speed internet for granted, occasionally cursing when it takes a bit longer than expected to load a website.
For those living in rural areas, broadband internet service is just starting to become available. Rural residents in the Town of Dunn will soon be seeing high-speed service due to a project by the town and a McFarland business owner.
Andrew Hoyos is the owner of Four Lakes Broadband and Hoyos Consulting; he is attempting to get more rural areas of Dane County access to broadband service. He’s been working with the Town of Dunn for about 18 months to get high-speed internet service to the community.
“There’s been a lot of challenges for the people in Dunn, because they could not get anything remotely comparable to high-speed internet,” said the McFarland resident, who recently purchased property in the town.
Hoyos said a lack of broadband internet service can hinder people who want to work from home or children trying to complete homework. He said one resident reported paying $1,200 a month for high-speed access just so they could work from home.
“A lot of the people are still suffering with what are essentially dial-up speeds that we had 20 years ago,” Hoyos said.
The business owner worked with the town to gain a grant from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) to fund installing a tower for broadband access.
Town Chairman Ed Minihan said access to the internet is no longer a luxury; it has become a necessity.
“School children and businesses must have access to the net. Our responsibility is to protect the health, safety and well being of our citizens,” he said. “That is why we have been working to get service to those areas of the town where it is impossible or extremely costly to get internet access.”
As part of the grant application process, several residents and businesses reported the impact of slow internet speeds.
Deer Park Buddhist Center President Lhundup Sherab’s letter to the PSC noted when the Dalai Lama has come to visit the center, there is a need for stable and high-speed internet service to provide for the communication needs of the Dalai Lama’s entourage.
Letters supporting the need for broadband internet in the town were also collected from the surrounding school districts, Dane County Sheriff’s Office, UW Health and elected officials.
The PSC provided $31,146 to pay for the $63,564 project. The remainder of the tower construction and infrastructure will be paid for by Hoyos Construction. The town will waive any fees associated with the tower’s construction.
The company will recoup its investment in the next few years as it provides high-speed internet service to Town of Dunn customers, Hoyos said.
Hoyos said the tower will be about 100 feet tall and located on the same property as the Dunn Town Hall.
“With 100 feet, there are silos and things even taller than that, so it’s not really going to be an eyesore,” he said.
The business owner hopes to begin constructing the tower in mid-September and start providing service by late October.
The tower will initially serve 50 businesses and residential subscribers, with a potential range of 1,836 homes.
“People are saying, ‘When you’re ready to sell services we’re ready, because there’s nothing else here,’” Hoyos said.