Town of Troy excited about broadband grant approvalThe USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced Baldwin Telecom, Inc. (BTI) has been approved for a $9 million broadband project in the town of Troy.
The USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced Baldwin Telecom, Inc. (BTI) has been approved for a $9 million broadband project in the town of Troy.
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, BTI will receive $4,533,949 in matching grant money for the development of broadband data access in the town of Troy. The other half of the funding will involve a loan to BTI from the federal government.
“These stimulus funds for broadband will help play an important part in bringing 21st Century infrastructure to all residents of the Town of Troy,” Said Baldwin Telecom manager Larry Knegendorf.
BTI has been working with the Town of Troy Broadband Committee for more than two years to find a way to provide high speed Internet to all of the town residents. Warren Vollmar, Chris Mueller and town chair Ray Knapp have played a major role in obtaining the grant money.
“The town is excited to have a quality partner like BTI who will provide us with fiber-optic technology that will carry data, voice and video signals,” Knapp said. “We feel that this technology is critical to the future success of the town and its residents. We are especially excited that this technology will be brought to the most rural parts of the town and serve all residents.”
Since 2006 the town has been researching and exploring options to bring fiber-optic technology to every town residence, not just to pockets of high-density residential areas.
The efforts included exploring vendor options, managing the collection of survey information and assisting in the preparation of the recent federal stimulus funding application. Recent changes to state law limited the authority of Wisconsin towns to create financially viable relationships with suppliers. That was one of the factors that made the town leaders seriously consider federal stimulus.
Chris Mueller and Vollmar served as leaders during different phases of this effort. Many other residents have donated time and expertise to bring the project to a successful conclusion.
In November of 2009 Vollmar, Baldwin Telecom and U-Reka Broadband Ventures made a presentation to the town board in November 2009, describing options in applying for the RUS Broadband Initiative Program.
The town board approved the broadband concept and approved spending up to $25,000 on the preparation of a funding grant application. In late December a contract was signed with U-Reka Broadband Ventures to act as the town’s consultant in preparing a 150-page application for broadband funding.
In January a memorandum of understanding was signed with BTI. The company took responsibility for all financial, managerial and operational obligations as it related to a possible stimulus award.
The application was submitted at the end of March.
“The town was optimistically hopeful, but we knew that there was a lot of competition for this stimulus money and our chances were much less than 50 percent,” Knapp said. “The good news came last week.”
The proposed project is a 100 percent fiber based broadband infrastructure for the unserved and underserved residents in the town. It will provide access to approximately 1,500 households, businesses and other institutions.
“The announcement today demonstrates the trust RUS has in our ability to deliver quality broadband services,” said BTI’s Knegendorf. “We are experienced at providing broadband in rural areas. In fact, 100 percent of our customers have access to our high-speed Internet service. This money gives us the opportunity to provide service to the Town of Troy.”
Matt Sparks of BTI said company officials will attend a meeting in late September to receive the rules and regulations surrounding the grant and construction of the system. Contracts should be signed at about the same time.
There is not a published timetable of construction, but Sparks said they already know that once the contracts are signed, the project must be 85 to 90 percent completed in two years.
“This project will also create new jobs at BTI and much of the construction will be done by contracted construction crews, creating more jobs,” Sparks said.
Additional information will be available at www.baldwin-telecom.net. For more information contact Knegendorf or Sparks at (715) 684-3346.