Ask an Official: County discusses high speed internet for rural residents
This week’s featured question was submitted for Lincoln County Administrative Coordinator Randy Scholz
“What is the current progress of the high speed internet plan for rural folks? I remember hearing a lot of hubbub about it last year but haven’t heard or seen much recently or really any crews working. Is this still going to happen and when do you think it might happen by?”
Answer as given by Scholz
“High-speed internet is alive and well in Lincoln County. The County Board passed a resolution saying, “the Lincoln County Board hereby adopts as a goal that it pursue the best possible broadband availability for the entire County in terms of speed, adoption rate, and data capacity”. The County Board is committed to make this resolution a reality for the people of Lincoln County.
“After the resolution passed, the County had meetings to try to move forward with a plan. The County then discovered that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was coming out with funding called Connect America Fund II (CAF II). This is funding to bring broadband defined as 10 megabits per second download speed and 1 megabits per second upload speed to rural areas. The best way this has been explained to me is referring to when electricity was built out to rural areas.
“The companies who have decided to take part in this program have to be at 40% build out by 2017 and at 100% build out by 2020. At the March 15, 2016 County Board meeting Frontier Communication gave a presentation of what CAF II funding will look like in Lincoln County. Frontier said that plows would be in the ground in 2016 in the Merrill area and by the end of next year, they would be completed ending in the Tomahawk area. Frontier’s time line has changed for them and our understanding is they will start in the spring of 2017. If you go to www.co.lincoln.wi.us you will find a quick link on the right side that says “Rural Broadband – FCC Connect America Funding II Eligibility Map”. The map gives a rough estimate of where Frontier will be bringing broadband to Lincoln County.
“The current plan for Lincoln County is to wait and see where gaps remain after the CAF II build out is completed and then find solutions for the areas that still do not have high-speed internet.
Have a question or concern you would like to address? Simply send your question or concern to [email protected] along with an indication of which entity your question or concern pertains to. Current participants are the Merrill Police Department, Merrill Fire Department, Tomahawk Police Department, Lincoln County Administrative Coordinator Randy Scholz, Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson and Merrill Area Housing Authority Director Paul Russell. Please note: Those who submit to the ‘Ask an Official’ feature remain anonymous.