New infrastructure projects will give residents in several rural Crawford County communities better, better and easier access to the internet by the end of this year.
Like many rural communities in Wisconsin, the challenge of quality broadband and internet access is a longstanding problem, but it’s only been highlighted by the pandemic, creating a sense of urgency.
And in Crawford County, at the heart of the Driftless region in Wisconsin, its unique landscape makes it that much more difficult for communities to gain access to the internet.
“It’s a challenge,” said Roy Kramer, who sits on the board for the town of Eastman
“A lot of this area here is hills, you know. So if you’re behind a certain hill, you have one tower, and if you go up a different hill, you’ve got a different tower, or no service at all,” Kramer said, who said the town’s current internet hardly lets individuals stream videos, proving especially challenging during the pandemic.
“Prairie du Chien was the line,” Kramer said of internet improvements. “It hasn’t been brought this way.”
But these pitfalls and internet dead zones are about to change in Eastman, and two surrounding rural communities, Seneca and Mt. Sterling, where new internet fibers will be laid, bringing modern, up-to-date internet to more than 260 homes and businesses in those communities.
The project to lay 8.58 miles of new network fiber is already underway and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31. It received a $256,685 matching-fund grant from the state, which the cable company leading the project, Mediacom Communications, plans to match.
“I think it will be good for the community. Faster internet is what everyone wants, right? And with everyone homeschooling or virtual schooling, we’ve had a lot of complaints about the service,” Kramer said.
Just down the road, in the city of Prairie du Chien, the county seat and much larger community, Mediacom just finished installing a free, public Wi-Fi network in its downtown area.
The network reaches the commercial area of Blackhawk Avenue from Main Street to Blackhawk Junction Mall, and was paid for entirely by Mediacom.
“People of all ages want to be active on social media or search information that’s available at their fingertips,” said Zachary Raskovich, the Mediacom Area Operations Director.
“When community events are held along Blackhawk Avenue, people will now find it easy to be online to post photos, share their experiences and stay connected,” he said.
Those interested in using the downtown public Wi-Fi in Prairie du Chien can use “Xtream Wi-Fi” while in the area.
And for the small town of Eastman, the community hopes this is the right step to help them keep up in the ever changing world of technology.
“As technology improves I’m sure they’ll find a better way. Wireless is getting better and better all the time. But in the meantime, we have to provide what we can,” Kramer said.
“As technology improves I’m sure they’ll find a better way. Wireless is getting better and better all the time. But in the meantime, we have to provide what we can.” Roy Kramer, town of Eastman board member
The project to lay 8.58 miles of new network fiber is already underway and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31
“As technology improves I'm sure they'll find a better way. Wireless is getting better and better all the time. But in the meantime, we have to provide what we can.”
Roy Kramer, town of Eastman board member
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