State of Wisconsin sets out on mission to expand Internet services to rural areas

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich, July 25, 2014 – Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, was in Eau Claire, WI last week to present a Public Service Commission Broadband Expansion Grant to Chippewa Valley Internetworking Consortium (CINC) and CCI Systems/Packerland Broadband in the amount of $139,467. The grant money is part of a $4.3 million dollar, state-wide initiative to improve and expand internet connectivity in rural unserved and underserved Wisconsin areas over the next seven years.

The Lieutenant Governor mentioned high-speed Internet is becoming more prevalent, and noted, not only is it important for education and economic development, but also for public safety. “In some cases there are life and death situations that can now be dependent on high-speed Internet,” said Kleefisch.

As part of the grant project, CCI Systems, its communications company, Packerland Broadband, and CINC will be constructing the 15,000 foot underground fiber route to expand services over 50 square miles in Eau Claire County, impacting four school districts, hospitals, businesses, public safety buildings, and more than 1200 homes. The project will also include building and updating wireless towers in the area to provide Wi-Fi hot spots throughout the community and local parks.

“Providing high-speed services to these areas will create a lot of job opportunity and improve educational possibilities,” said Packerland General Manager, Cory Heigl. “We operate the systems in Fall Creek and Augusta; it’s always challenging to serve households in the rural areas surrounding these communities. The collaboration concept, joining the public/private partnership, will dramatically improve lives for many folks living in Eastern Eau Claire County,” Heigl noted. “We are impressed with the State of Wisconsin’s approach to rural broadband, and providing programs to allow creative solutions to improve the quality of life for its residents.”

The pilot project’s cost is estimated at $250,000, 44% of which was matched by public and private collaborators, in addition to the state funds. The project is expected to be complete by 2015 and if proved to be successful, could lead to the expansion of services in other rural areas.

The Lieutenant Governor also announced two other expansion grants in Chippewa and Clark County in separate events on July 14.

About CCI Systems, Inc.
CCI Systems is the nation’s premier start-to-finish solutions provider of communication network services. With nearly 60 years of experience engineering, constructing, integrating, and operating complex networks, CCI Systems is able to deliver flexible, custom solutions for all network platforms. For more information visit,www.ccisystems.com.

About Packerland Broadband
Packerland Broadband, a subsidiary of CCI Systems, Inc., is a communications service provider, offering digital video, high-speed data and phone services to the rural communities throughout the states of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Continuing its mission to bring high-speed services to underserved communities, Packerland operates nearly 2,100 miles of fiber optic cable and an additional 550 miles of coaxial plant in 67 communities. For more information visit, www.packerlandbroadband.com.

About CINC
The Chippewa Valley Internetworking Consortium (CINC) is a regional Community Area Network (CAN) formed in 1999 that is committed to “Broadband Serving the Public Interest.” For more information visit,http://cincua.org/.