Bloomer Broadband’s fiber-to-the-home build outs have happened largely because of the State of Wisconsin Grants and the latest ARPA Grant programs. Being awarded these grants means we must adhere to all guidelines regarding where we can build and when. The grant has designated that the funding support those in unserved (no internet options) and underserved areas (those with less than 25/3Mbps). This is in line with Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) definition of minimum broadband speeds of at least 25Mbps (download) and 3Mbps (upload). This means that if you are in an area serviced by another internet provider, and that provider offers at least 25/3Mbps, we cannot use the ARPA grant to overbuild in that area. (The FCC has been talking since early 2021 about raising the minimums to 100/100 Mbps. If that happens, Bloomer Broadband will qualify for more grants to extend our services further into areas that do not currently qualify for broadband grants.)
When we can build in funded areas, we are restricted to certain “blocks” based on the Census Block Group maps created by the FCC. We are required to stay within the map boundaries—and this often means not being able to run a fiber-optic cable to houses next to each other or across the street from each other. The alternative is that Bloomer Broadband could extend the build into the non-funded areas, but that would require millions of dollars. (See this blog post regarding the cost of fiber.)
Bloomer Broadband continues to apply for grants and additional funding, so although you don’t have access to Bloomer internet today, you may in the future.
Visit the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s website for details regarding which areas received funding, what broadband grants are available, and the opportunity to take part in a Wisconsin internet survey. (Make your voice heard and shape Wisconsin’s broadband planning efforts!)
If you have any questions about the construction happening in your area—and to see if you are eligible for Bloomer internet—please don’t hesitate to contact us. And, as always, we are happy to answer any questions you have about our services.