When the rest of the world went virtual during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural Wisconsin went dark.

“Education didn’t slow,” said Taylor County Supervisor Mike Bub of Medford. “It stopped.”

In an effort to close those internet access gaps, more money is going toward broadband expansion in Wisconsin than ever before.

The Legislature approved $125 million in the biennial state budget and Gov. Tony Evers directed $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the Public Service Commission. Wisconsin is set to receive another $100 million from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that recently passed through the U.S. Senate and the FCC’s most recent Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction granted more than $373.7 million in subsidies for internet providers to expand and manage broadband in 240,546 locations in the state.

Charter, the telecommunications company that owns Spectrum, was allotted $168 million from that fund, adding to the $500 million in private investments the company pledged earlier this year. Those federal and private dollars add up to just under $1.2 billion total, falling within the $700 million to $1.4 billion the PSC estimated is needed to provide high-speed internet access to all Wisconsinites.

See more in the WisPolitics.com Friday Report: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/210820report/#story-1