Charter plans broadband expansion in rural Wisconsin
Areas of Douglas and Bayfield counties would be able to get up 1 Gbsp high-speed service.
Charter Communications announced plans to invest $688 million in largely rural communities in Wisconsin to bring high-speed broadband to homes and small businesses, including communities in Douglas and Bayfield counties.
The plan includes expansion to communities southeast of Superior in north-central Douglas County and the Washburn area in Bayfield County, according to a map provided by Charter.
The Federal Communication Commission estimated the project would provide gigabit internet services to about 143,000 unserved Wisconsin homes and small businesses. Charter won more than $168 million in support for the initiative through the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction to offset the investment in Wisconsin. Charter plans to invest $500 million in the project.
The initiative in Wisconsin is part of a $5 billion investment to expand broadband availability to more than one million new customer locations in 24 states. Overall, the project will be offset by $1.2 billion in RDOF support.
The network Charter plans to build in Wisconsin will offer up to 1 Gbps high-speed broadband with starting speeds of 200 Mbps, which will enable consumers to engage in remote learning, work from home, engage in telemedicine and other applications that require high bandwidth and low-latency connectivity.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need for broadband availability and adoption and Charter is committed to furthering its efforts as part of the comprehensive solution needed to address these challenges and positively impact the local communities we serve,” said Tom Rutledge, chairman and CEO of Charter Communications.
The newly served areas will also have access to from package pricing for Spectrum Mobile, Spectrum TV and Voice offerings.
Charter expects to hire more than 2,000 employees and contractors nationwide in support of the buildout including local crews in state for network construction. Charter currently employs more than 3,000 people in Wisconsin, with employees already earning at least two times the federal minimum wage.
Preparation for the multi-year broadband buildout has already begun and will include Charter expanding its existing construction organization to focus on deployment of this new fiber-optic network.
Charter has established an online resource at SpectrumRuralExpansion.com where consumers can learn more about the buildout. In the months ahead, the site will include the ability to determine whether specific residential or business locations will be part of the buildout and will allow prospective customers to request email or text message updates from Spectrum as the buildout progresses and more specific information becomes available.
As buildouts near completion, Charter will contact customers to provide details about the Spectrum services available and activation time frames.
“As Americans across the country increasingly rely on broadband to work, learn, access health care and stay in touch with family and loved ones, bringing broadband access to more unserved areas should be a priority for all stakeholders,” Rutledge said.