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The LinkWISCONSIN Initiative

The mission of the Wisconsin Broadband Office (WBO) and its LinkWISCONSIN Initiative is to make Wisconsin more competitive through advancing the availability, adoption, and use of broadband technologies.

Since 2009, the initiative has been collecting and mapping broadband coverage information for improved planning purposes.  As part of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission), the WBO works with stakeholders to build partnerships with providers and consumers to enhance broadband across the state. The SBO also administers broadband improvement funding through the annual Broadband Expansion Grant Program. 

The LinkWISCONSIN Initiative History, 2009-2014

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

On February 17, 2009, Congress passed, and the President signed, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. A far reaching piece of legislation, the act provided funding for a host of economic recovery and technology programs.

Building upon the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA) of 2008, this act allocated substantial addition funding for broadband infrastructure development and effective new broadband adoption programs.

State Broadband Data and Development Program

In addition to funding for broadband infrastructure, public computer centers and sustainable adoption programs, stimulus funds were made available for broadband mapping and planning.

The State Broadband Data and Development (SBDD) Grant Program was a matching grant program that implements the joint purposes of the ARRA and the BDIA. The program provided grants to assist states or their designees in gathering and verifying state-specific data on the availability and location of broadband services. The data they collected and compiled is being used to develop publicly available statewide broadband maps and to inform the comprehensive, interactive and searchable national broadband map that NTIA was required by the Recovery Act to create and make publicly available by February 17, 2011.

The national broadband map publicly displays the geographic areas where broadband service is available. It is also searchable by address, showing the broadband providers offering service in the corresponding census block or street segment.

Awardees were required to contribute at least 20 percent non-federal matching funds toward project costs. In addition, while the BDIA mandated that each state designate only one eligible entity to receive funds under the program, each state's applicant was carefully evaluated and met the standards described in NTIA's Notice of Funds Availability for this program in order to receive funding.

LinkWISCONSIN Initiative

The Commission was designated as the sole Wisconsin entity eligible to apply for and receive a federal mapping/planning grant under NTIA's SBDD. The Commission selected the LinkAMERICA Alliance as the SBDD project management team for the state.

In November 2009, the NTIA awarded approximately $1.7 million for the statewide mapping and planning effort, known as LinkWISCONSIN. The initiative has been charged with developing a long-term, sustainable plan for increasing access to and use of broadband across the State. Read full Executive Summary for Wisconsin's initial SBDD grant application.

In summer 2010, NTIA announced they would accept updated grant applications from states to fund mapping and planning efforts for three additional years. An application was submitted for Wisconsin's continued SBDD efforts on July 1, 2010, and the state was awarded an additional $2.82 million to fund Wisconsin's broadband mapping and planning project for final three years of the grant.

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