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Several rural Rock Co. residents feel like they’re waiting for the world wide web

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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ROCK COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - Several rural Rock County residents contacted the NBC15 newsroom with frustrations about their poor internet connections.

One of those viewers is Bonnie Wetter. She lives in the Town of Newark, just outside of Beloit. She uses a hot spot to connect to the internet.

“It works,” Wetter said. “Is it great? No. Do I curse at it sometimes? Yes.”

Wetter said just opening her e-mail to send a quick message can take her up to 30 minutes. She also has driven into town to maintain a stable connection from public WIFI locations, and says at times, it has wasted 4 hours of her workday.

“It would connect, but then it would disconnect within seconds and then I’d have to start all over again,” Wetter said.

She isn’t the only one in this area struggling to connect.

The map below from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s website shows broadband coverage for Rock County. The ‘served’ communities are colored in gray, and the ‘underserved’ are in blue.

The WI Public Service Commission map shows the Broadband Expansion Grant Eligibility for served...
The WI Public Service Commission map shows the Broadband Expansion Grant Eligibility for served and underserved communities(Wisconsin Public Service Commission, Wisconsin Broadband Office)

NBC15 asked Director of Digital Access Alyssa Kenney, how long will it take to get broadband to these areas?

“The state broadband office has about 138 open projects,” Kenney said.

Right now, Kenney said each project takes about two years, but before it can start, state leaders and providers have to ask: is this area worth it?

“That’s the challenge, to make sure people get the service they need quickly and being prudent with how we’re using state dollars,” Kenney said.

For Wetter, reliable internet can’t come soon enough.

“We haven’t seen anything done,” Wetter said. “It would be a lot easier for people in rural areas to have that connection with the world to have that access.”

NBC15 also checked in with the Rock County Board of Supervisors.

Vice Chair Richard Bostwick said the board is looking for guidance but expects the county to get about $32 million from plans, like the Federal American Rescue Plan. Some of that money will be set aside for broadband expansion.

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