The Scandinavia Telephone Co. will receive a $1.24 million federal grant to expand broadband service in rural areas.
The local grant is part of the $2.5 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Broadband Initiatives Program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
According to U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Wisconsin will receive a total of $65 million in loan and grant funding from the program. Statewide, the grants will help provide high-speed Internet access to an estimated 30,000 people and 1,335 businesses.
The Scandinavia Telephone Co. is owned by TDS Telecom, which will get $85.9 million in 39 federal grants nationwide and provide $28.6 million of its own funds to complete the projects. TDS is receiving 11 grants in the state of Wisconsin.
“The grant will help us reach those people who, because of their remote location, do not have access to high-speed Internet,” according to Cindy Tomlinson, a Madison spokeswoman for TDS.
She said the grant to the Scandinavia Telephone Co. will allow 490 new households in the area to have high-speed connections. She said the project includes laying fiber in the ground and installing additional service pedestals.
Kohl, who as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee spearheaded efforts to fund broadband expansion into rural areas, said the program will help the economy and create new customer service and technical-related jobs.
“Wisconsin received a big jump today in expanding broadband services into rural parts of Wisconsin. This substantial investment will expand the broadband network to places that are currently underserved, linking people to resources that have been out of reach. This is a path to growth for our businesses, health care providers and schools who can tap into the limitless potential of technology to strengthen their work, create jobs and energize their local economies,” Kohl said.
Traditionally, broadband carriers have struggled to provide rural communities service due to the cost associated with providing coverage to such a dispersed population. This funding will provide the capital necessary to build the infrastructure to provide a network of service to households, farms and businesses.