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Task force looks to select proposal

Task force looks to select proposal Task force looks to select proposal

The Marathon County Broadband Task Force will select one of four competing proposals from internet service companies to include in a grant request to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) due Dec. 1.

Task force members agreed on the strategy in a meeting held Friday. The quartet of proposals are from Bug Tussle Wireless, Northwoods Connect, Serenity and Air Runner. Some of the proposals are ambitious with plans to erect towers and install fiber optic cable, while others are less so.

The task force hopes to have a set of criteria in which to score the various proposals and then include the top submittal in its PSC grant application. Supervisors have included $250,000 in the 2021 county budget to possibly provide matching dollars for a successful PSC grant application.

Task force chairman John Robinson, Wausau, said a top priority will be to serve townships north of STH 29 where both internet and cell phone reception is the worst. The town of Hamburg has particularly bad broadband service, he said.

Robinson said it was a priority to provide these “north­ern tier” residents with cellular telephone or internet service so they can get emergency services, if needed.

Task force members said, however, that the cellular telephone and internet service problems were best tackled separately.

Of the interested companies, Bug Tussle Wireless, a Green Bay company, has presented the most ambitious plan. It includes using 10 towers, which include seven new towers and three existing towers. The company provides broadband service in 25 Wisconsin counties.

County board chairman Kurt Gibbs, town of Cassel, said he had talked to administration at Fond du Lac County and learned that Bug Tussle Wireless had a good reputation and was easy to work with.