Charter, Frontier, TDS win in Wisconsin’s $17M funding round

Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission (PSC) has dished out $16.6 million in broadband grants, with Charter Communications, Frontier Communications and TDS Telecom each scoring a piece of the funding pie.

The money, which came from the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program, will fund 24 projects covering 6,042 residential and 276 business locations. All the grant recipients have indicated they plan to deliver fiber-to-the-premises service.

The biggest winner was Washington Island Electric Cooperative with $2.5 million. The co-op aims to reach 786 locations in the town of Washington in Door County.

Charter’s Spectrum Mid-America came in second with $2.4 million, which will be used to connect 1,336 homes and 75 businesses with fiber in Wisconsin’s Vilas County. In its recent earnings call, Charter talked up its progress on rural broadband deployments, noting it reached 44,000 subsidized rural passings in Q1.

Other notable winners were Siren Telephone Company ($1.79 million), TDS ($1.5 million), Nextgen Broadband ($1.3 million) and Frontier ($500,000).

TDS is targeting 752 homes and 75 businesses across 10 towns in Wisconsin’s Grant County. The operator is plotting fiber rollouts to nearly 40,000 new locations in the state, SVP of Corporate Affairs Drew Petersen told Fierce in March. Aside from Wisconsin, TDS plans to build fiber in Indiana, Maine, Montana and Tennessee.

As for Frontier, it’s using its award to provide service to 519 homes and 5 businesses in the town of Jacksonport in Door County. Frontier’s latest grant comes after it received around $7.5 million from Wisconsin last year to cover about 15,200 locations across five counties.

A total of 74 applicants applied for this funding round, requesting $73.7 million from the PSC. To help meet overwhelming demand for funding, Wisconsin’s governor in February proposed the state invest at least $75 million annually for broadband projects over the next decade.

“This investment is a positive step forward toward connecting all in our state, but our work is not done,” stated PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “As we work to plan for and implement federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, state funding—like these grants—is a critical and needed component to make sure all can access and use broadband.”