Door, Kewaunee Counties Receive Broadband-Expansion Grants

Internet access in Door and Kewaunee counties will improve during the coming year thanks to grants from the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin to increase high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved communities in the state.

The Town of Sturgeon Bay will receive $188,044 for Charter Communications to build cable internet service along South Lake Michigan Drive, potentially connecting 114 residential locations.

Nasewaupee will receive $65,282 for Door County Broadband to build a new broadband tower and equip that tower and an existing structure with fixed wireless antennas. This will reach 50 businesses and 1,008 residential locations in the area.

Door County Broadband owner Kevin Voss said that during the company’s six years in business, providing accessible internet for students has been its main concern. He estimates that 15 to 20 percent of students don’t have that access.

“How do we empower these kids in the digital age?” he said. “That’s what we have been working very hard to do.”

A third project in Door County will benefit the Village of Egg Harbor through Nsight Services, which is receiving $48,960 to connect existing fiber service to mesh WiFi equipment on poles in downtown Egg Harbor to provide free WiFi services to the public.

In a home, a mesh WiFi system consists of a main router with additional cells or modules placed around the house for full coverage. Egg Harbor will use a similar model by placing these cells on poles or rooftops as a pilot for this type of project.

At a Village Board of Trustees meeting in November 2019, Lee Thibaudeau, chief technical officer and vice president of engineering at Nsight (also known as Cellcom), said that nearly all of Door County qualifies as either underserved or unserved under the state’s definition.

Kewaunee County was also awarded $960,000 to work with Bug Tussel Wireless in Green Bay to increase high-speed internet access. 

The townships of Carlton, Casco, Franklin, Red River and West Kewaunee will see changes first with the addition of seven towers. The expansion will service 199 businesses and 12,115 residential locations within its reach, and the antennas’ reach will extend as far as Mishicot in Manitowoc County.

“The grant that has been awarded to Kewaunee County makes it possible to improve service, share costs and preserve limited county assets,” Kewaunee County Board Chair Robert Weidner said in a March 23 press release. “The current health crisis demonstrates how important it is to have the option for students and others to be able to work from home.”