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Grant to improve broadband access in northern Dunn County


An additional 500 residences and businesses in northern Dunn County will have access to high-speed broadband services from Nextgen Broadband next year after the company’s grant application was approved recently by the state Public Service Commission.

The PSC’s Wisconsin Broadband Office announced that Nextgen Broadband, a subsidiary of Clear Lake Telephone Co., will receive $1.33 million to bring fiber broadband access to 557 residences and seven businesses in the towns of New Haven and Tiffany in Dunn County. The company will have to match that amount to complete the project. Dunn County is contributing $20,000 to the project; the town of New Haven, $3,000; and the town of Tiffany, $2,000.

“Nextgen Broadband has already completed fiber-to-the-home construction in Boyceville and Downing,” said Tim Kusilek, Nextgen Broadband general manager, and is taking new customers now. The PSC grant, he said, will allow the company to bring fiber access to Tiffany and New Haven and “fill a gap between Clear Lake and Boyceville and Downing, and allow us to provide fiber redundancy to all our communities that we serve.”

The PSC in May awarded funding of $16.6 million for 24 projects statewide to expand broadband internet to 6,042 residential and 276 business locations that are underserved. The projects receiving awards will impact 19 counties. The PSC received 74 applications.

“The investments we’ve made in Wisconsin’s Broadband Expansion Program since 2019 have helped to deliver affordable, high-speed internet to communities across our state,” said Gov. Tony Evers in announcing the grants. “The longer it takes to expand access, the more costly it will be for our state to catch up. … This latest round will help even more folks connect with one another.”

Kusilek said that without the PSC grant, “the high cost of a fiber-to-the-home build would not allow us to provide affordable broadband” to their customers. The company was able to secure the grant, he said, because the project fit well within the criteria set by the PSC, and “Nextgen has a proven record of completing grant projects on time.”

Construction on the project will begin in spring 2024, he said, with customers being able to sign up for service in fall 2024.

Some 107 miles of fiber optic lines will be installed to the 557 households and seven businesses that currently have much slower DSL service. Expanding broadband service to these locations, the company said in its PSC application, “will provide subscribers with a high quality and reliable broadband infrastructure to expand their educational, economic, and healthcare opportunities.”

Kusilek said he was grateful for the support of Dunn County and the towns of Tiffany and New Haven in partnering with Nextgen Broadband for this project. “The grant application would not have been successful without their support,” he said.

Dan Dunbar, chair of the Dunn County Broadband Task Force, said the county is working hard to bring broadband access to underserved areas of the county, and this project will be a boon for people living in these two northern towns.

“Our goal is to bring broadband access to all Dunn County residents and businesses who want it,” Dunbar said. “This project is an important step toward accomplishing that goal.”

Other western Wisconsin projects approved for funding include $107,244 for Eau Claire County to provide service to one business and 24 homes in the town of Fairchild; $131,000 for Bloomer Telephone Co. to reach 25 homes in the town of Tilden in Chippewa County; $635,966 for Ntera to reach two businesses and 207 homes in the towns of Ruby, Goetz, Eagle Point and Cleveland in Chippewa County; $193,003 for Citizens Connected to reach 67 homes in the towns of Chetek and Rusk in Barron and Rusk counties; $110,000 for Tri-County Communications Cooperative to reach two businesses and 16 homes in the town of Clear Creek in Eau Claire County; and $118,150 for Bruce Telephone Co. to reach 53 homes in the town of Rusk in Rusk County

More information on the PSC broadband grant program is available here.

More information on the Dunn County Broadband Team is available here.

More information on Nextgen Broadband is available here.

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