MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state will direct $100 million in additional funding to expand broadband internet in Wisconsin.
The latest round of grants comes from the 2021-2023 biennial budget signed by Gov. Tony Evers in July, which provided $129 million over the biennium for expanding high-speed broadband internet to unserved or underserved areas of 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,” said Gov. Tony Evers in a statement Tuesday.
The state has been working to expand high-speed internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many to work and learn remotely.
The state Public Service Commission recently awarded $100 million in funding as part of $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief under the American Rescue Plan Act. The PSC received 242 applications that requested more than $440 million for internet expansion, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
“We know that we can deploy (the grant money) and get them where they are needed the most,” said PSC Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq during a panel discussion Tuesday about broadband solutions.
Applications for the latest round of state grants can be found on the PSC website beginning Dec. 1. Valcq said the goal is to award those grants sometime next spring.
Wisconsin has already been awarded nearly $1.5 billion in federal funding to support broadband projects, according to the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau.