Presentation for: FY 2018

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FY 2018 Broadband Expansion Grant Webinar

Dennis Klaila & Jaron McCallumPublic Service Commission of WisconsinJune 2017

Broadband ExpansionGrant Program



ExpansionGrant Program

Purpose: To encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability in underserved areas of the state.


Current Status of Broadband Service in the State

13% of state residents (744,002 people) lack access to at least one broadband service that meets the benchmark speed of 25 Mbps download / 3 Mbps up, compared to the national average of 10


43% of state residents (710,485 people) in rural census blocks lack access to at least one 25/3 service, compared to the national average of 39%.

33% of the population on Tribal lands (13,042 people) lack access to at least one 25/3 service, compared to the national average of 41



FY 2018 Broadband Expansion Grants

The PSC is currently accepting applications for FY 18 broadband grants

.The total amount of money available for this grant round is $1.5 million.

Applications are due by 4:00 pm on June 30, 2017.Applications must be submitted by uploading the completed application to the PSC’s Electronic Regulatory Filing (ERF) system.

Application instructions and answers to Frequently Asked Questions are available on the PSC





Who may Apply for a Broadband Grant?

To be eligible, an applicant must fall within one of the following three applicant categories:

An organization operated for profit or not-for-profit, including a


A telecommunications


A city, village, town, or county that has entered into a partnership with an eligible organization or telecommunications



For an area to be considered eligible for a

grant, it must be considered “underserved.”

“Underserved” = Area served by

fewer than 2 providers offering Broadband Service

Broadband Service = 25

Mbps Down / 3 Mbps


What Geographic Areas of the State May Receive a Broadband Grant?

Grant Eligible

Guideline Areas

Underserved Areas



Wisconsin Broadband Map is not accurate

with respect to my location.”

The data for the Wisconsin Broadband Map is provided by census block. A provider indicates coverage of a census block when the provider serves at least 1 customer in the block.


grant application instructions provide:

Where the


Broadband Map indicates that a proposed project area is underserved, the PSC will accept the


as sufficient evidence that the project area is in fact underserved.

Where the Map indicates that an area is served by two or more broadband service providing 25/3 service, the applicant is permitted to provide additional information to show that the Map is not accurate with respect to the proposed project



additional information can be just a statement from a customer, but more elaborate


will be accepted as well.


The record that the Commission considers to make its grant award decision consists of the following 4 items:


rant applicationsComments of interested persons in support or in opposition to one or more specific applicationsR

anking of the grant applications prepared by a preliminary evaluation committeeDiscussion memo prepared by Commission staff

The Commission meets in an open session to discuss the record and to decide which applications should be awarded grants.

How Does the Commission Evaluate Grant Applications?



statute that authorizes the Broadband Grant Program requires that the Commission give priority to applications that include any of six factors listed in the statute:

To date, the Broadband Grant program has been quite competitive. The Commission has received many more applications than it can fund. The discussion of priority factors has been the key element of the application that the Commission has used to decide which apps to fund.

What Specific Items of Information Must be Discussed in the Grant Application?

Matching funds

Existing broadband services


Public/private partnerships

Project impact

Economic impact


An application will receive higher priority based on the amount and type of matching funds the applicant proposes to invest in its project.

Matching funds can in include in-kind contributions. The Commission may give less weight to some in-kind contributions as circumstances demand

.Matching funds may include customer premises equipment

.There is no minimum amount of matching funds required.

Applicants may wish to look at past applications to see what successful grant applicants offered to contribute as matching funds.

Matching Funds


An application that includes a city, village, town, or county as a participating partner, in partnership with a telecommunication provider or other private organization, will receive priority


To receive priority credit, the grant application must offer more than a simple letter of support from a town or village.

A public applicant must engage the active participation of at least one private partner. The Commission has decided that contracting for a service by itself is not sufficient. There must be some indication in the application that a private partner has agreed to participate in the application. Public-Private Partnerships



application proposing to serve an unserved area shall receive priority.


this means there is no provider providing


service in the project area.

No Existing Broadband Service


An application that demonstrates a commitment to increase the size or scope of its broadband network in the future shall receive priority.

An application that discusses possible growth potential, but declines to make a specific commitment regarding future growth of the broadband network, shall receive a lesser priority


The application instructions on this point permit a variety of answers. Applicants are invited to provide a sensible description of the potential for continued future development of customer base and service options not captured specifically by the description of the project proposal itself.Scalability


An application that demonstrates the potential to promote job growth or retention, expand the property tax base or improve the overall economic vitality of the municipality or region shall receive priority


Some grant proposals target business customers, and the economic impact the application hopes to accomplish is evident on its face.

Other impacts can be a bit indirect, but no less important. For example, a fixed wireless service in a rural county could impact the decisions of tourists and seasonal residents to use the facilities or extend their stay in the area.

Economic Development


Project Impact

An application that proposes to serve a larger geographic area or a larger number of customers or communities in an area shall receive higher priority than one that serves a comparatively smaller geographic area or a fewer number of potential customers or communities in an area.


Other Relevant Information

In its review and decision, the Commission is free to give more weight to one or two of the priority factors, or give weight to other information provided in the application. Some items of additional Information that the Commission could take into account include

:The total number of persons served by a given application when compared to applications of equal priority

Duplication of existing broadband infrastructureAccess to health care service from homeAccess to educational materials from home

The degree to which the proposed project would impair the ability of a broadband service provider or competing broadband service provider to extend broadband service to areas adjacent to the proposed project shall receive a reduction in priority.

Certification as a Broadband Forward! Community. However, applicant should note that the Commission has not made any determination that such certification is specifically or necessarily applicable to grants for broadband facilities under Wis. Stat. § 196.504.

The download and upload transmission speeds the application proposes to provide.

Any one or more of the factors in Wis. Stat. § 196.03(6) that the applicant believes its project would specifically and materially advance for benefit of the public interest with respect to communications facilities. However, applicant should note that the Commission has not made any determination that the criteria in Wis. Stat. § 196.03(6) respecting telecommunications services and facilities are specifically or necessarily applicable to grants for broadband facilities under Wis. Stat. § 196.504



Public Comments

The Commission will provide a public comment period after the grant applications have been filed – July 1 to July 14

.The Commission will only accept public comments. Criticism of applications based upon non-public service data will not be given weight

.Staff provides the Commission a list of the comments received, and those comments are available to that Commission as part of the record of the docket.

Staff will also discuss in the briefing memorandum specific public comments that raise issues of importance in evaluating the relative merits of individual applications.


Recommendations for Successful Applications

The PSC does not choose broadband providers or impose a broadband technology on applicants. The grant applicants choose the broadband service provider for the project and the broadband technology that will be used.

Grant projects that have been approved

in three counties offer successful alternative approaches for this program:Langlade CountyOneida County



All of the projects in these counties addressed areas that were currently unserved at the 25/3 level of service



Langlade County

In Langlade County, the organizing entity for the projects is

Wittenberg Wireless.

Wittenberg Wireless identified prospective service areas, reached out to potential customers, and engaged the cooperation and participation of the Langlade County Board of Supervisors and local town and village leaders. Wittenberg chose the fiber to the home service technology for its projects


The Wittenberg grant applications stand out in several respects:

Significant matching funds

Public-private partnerships with the duties of each party agreed to in writing

Letters of support from potential business customers identifying the internet applications each business would employ

Specific plans for future growth beyond the immediate customer base in the project



Oneida County

In Oneida County, the organizing entity for the projects is the Oneida County Economic Development Corp

.OCEDC pulled together a diverse group of businesses, residents and local governments to decide how to best provide broadband service in rural areas of the county. The planning group identified the fixed wireless service offered by Northwoods Connect as the preferred option

.The Oneida County EDC grant applications stand out in several respects:

Significant matching funds, including funds offered by potential customers

Extensive public-private partnership with Oneida County and many of the townships in the service area

Letters of support from a number of prospective business and residential customers

A showpiece for fixed wireless internet service in rural areas


Vilas County


rganizing entities for the projects are enterprising start-up broadband providers and local governments that

identify broadband as essential to the community experience.

ChoiceTel is providing fiber


in Eagle River and north of the city up to Land O’Lakes.

Both Eagle River and Land O’Lakes have contributed significant matching funds to the projects

ChoiceTel has installed spare capacity to expand to additional customers in the


SonicNet provides a fixed wireless service in areas that cannot be service economically with a wireline facility




a DSL service


Trout Lake


state grant funds, and is building out a DSL service in Manitowish Waters and Presque Isle with federal CAF II funds.




four years, it is possible to identify specific benefits that the Broadband Grant program has brought to underserved areas of the state.Added value to existing homes and expanded

construction locations for new homes.Improved internet access for businesses that depend upon the internet for sales and product development, or communication with other company locations.



seasonal residents to spend more time in their summer homes and campgrounds.



clinics and hospitals to

use telemedicine

devices, including home health monitoring units, to better assess the health status of chronic patients without having to travel to a clinic.



high school students with the internet access they need to complete assignments, and contact teachers and fellow students by e-mail and social media.


Mapping Resources

All WBO Maps:

Broadband Map


and Print Internet Coverage PDF Maps (County, Assembly, Senate, U.S. Congress)



CAF-II Funded Areas



Broadband Expansion Grant Recipients



Contact Information

Questions related to the administration of the broadband grant program may be addressed to the following staff:

Director, State Broadband OfficeAngie 267-9138Broadband

Expansion Grant Program ManagerDennis 267-9780

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