Wisconsin will receive $1.1 billion to spend on broadband expansion as part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act..
The state-by-state breakdown of the funding was announced Monday. Nationwide, the infrastructure law will spend a total of $42.5 billion on high speed internet grants.
Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Mitch Landrieu, a senior advisor to the president and the White House infrastructure coordinator, called the investment a “big deal,” one that rivaled the electrification of rural America in the 1930s. “High speed internet is not a luxury,” Landrieu said. “It’s a necessity if anybody wants to fully participate in society.”
The federal government spent the last 18 months mapping broadband access state by state, with the goal of using these funds to achieve universal broadband access by 2030. Landrieu said that in Wisconsin, 253,000 homes and small businesses either had no high speed internet or lacked access to “minimally acceptable” speeds.
Landrieu said the bulk of the funding would go toward laying fiber, or high-speed fiber optic cable in the ground. “Essentially, 80 percent of that is digging dirt,” Landrieu said. “A lot of it is manufacturing the cable and then just the hard work of laying out where it needs to be based on the mapping that has been done. And then we expect the work to be complete 100 percent by 2030 across America.”
Landrieu said the next step in the process would be for the Evers administration to present a plan to the federal government on how to use the funding. Construction, Landrieu said, could begin early next year.