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$2.8M coming for broadband locally
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MONROE - Green County is set to benefit from part of the more than $65 million in federal stimulus money heading to Wisconsin to provide broadband Internet access for rural areas of the state.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl said Wednesday the loan and grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to provide high speed Internet access for more than 30,000 individuals and 1,300 businesses in rural Wisconsin.

Included is more than $2.8 million for Utelco, LLC, Monroe, for broadband expansion in Green County. Utelco is part of TDS Telecommunications Corp., headquartered in Madison.

TDS will receive almost $86 million in federal grants and will provide almost $29 million of its own money to complete broadband expansion projects in 18 states, the company said on its website.

Broadband carriers have struggled to provide service to rural areas because of the cost of building the infrastructure for less populated areas.

About 20 percent of Wisconsin households do not have access to broadband, according to reports cited by Kohl's office.

"Now we have the opportunity to bring reliable and affordable broadband out to some of our most difficult to reach customers," TDS director of external affairs and corporate communications Andrew Petersen said in a news release.

TDS will have two to three years to complete the projects, once contracts are signed.

Some $2.5 billion in funding for the USDA Broadband Initiatives Program was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.