Using stimulus funds to install over 600 miles of fiber optic cabling across Wisconsin

Partnering our own Packerland Broadband with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, CCI won $45.9 million in federal grants and matching funds to connect university campuses and public anchor institutions, and bring broadband services to rural Wisconsinites.

The challenge: Both UWEX and Packerland Broadband wanted to pursue funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The university wanted to connect various campuses; the UW System, by law, cannot deliver Internet services to homes or businesses. Packerland, on the other hand, targets residential and business customers in small communities that might not otherwise receive advanced services.

By joining forces, we received the funds—and now the real challenge is underway! We have been engineering and constructing the network for nearly two years and will have it complete and fully functional by the summer of 2013. CCI provides all the services to make this massive project a success:

  • Network engineering and design, creating a route that would reach the communities Packerland serves and tie with designated UW campuses and other anchor institutions. We handled drafting, designing and permitting, and assisted with purchasing.
  • Complete underground construction services, including conduit placement, fiber installation and splicing and testing.
  • Detailed project tracking to deliver on an aggressive timetable and stay within budget.

The result: Thousands of state residents in more than a hundred municipalities will gain access to upgraded services including high-speed Internet, expanded channel lineups and a full array of digital packages. Equally important, the university’s network will serve as the backbone for Community Area Networks, bringing state-of-the-art data services to public anchor organizations.

“This public-private partnership lets UW-Extension help schools, hospitals and other community institutions in these communities connect to the internet they need while Packerland Broadband can bring upgraded services to residents and businesses,” says Maria Alvarez Stroud, director of the new UWEX Center for Community Technology Solutions. “It’s a valuable economic development tool for our communities and our state that is a testament to this strong partnership.”