Broadband in Polk County
In today's digital age, reliable and fast internet connectivity has become an essential part of our lives. It enables us to communicate, work, learn, and access information with ease. Polk County, with our picturesque landscapes and close-knit communities, has faced unique challenges when it comes to broadband connectivity. Our rural geography and sparce population distribution created a digital divide that several of our Polk County broadband service providers have made substantial investments to solve. Recognizing that reliable internet access is no longer a luxury but a necessity, Polk County has taken action to bring together local leaders, community organizations, and residents to address the broadband gap. Broadband construction projects are underway this year and will continue through 2024.
Information on Broadband
A person is eligible if anyone in their household meets at least one of the following:
- Receives one of the following benefits:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
- Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
- Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- The National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (free and reduced school lunches)
- Has an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers' existing low-income program
- Participates in Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
How to Enroll
- Go to ACPBenefit.org to submit an application or print out a mail-in application.
Save time by applying online. The online application process verifies if residents are currently receiving qualifying benefits, reducing the need for supporting documentation.
- Contact your preferred participating provider to select a plan and have the discount applied to your bill.
Some providers may have an alternative application that they will ask you to complete.
Eligible households must both apply for the program and contact a participating provider to select a service plan.
- What is Broadband?
- Why is Broadband Essential?
- Telecommuting & the Economy
- Broadband & Education
- Broadband & Health Care
- Broadband Expansion Funding
- Badger Talk: Broadband Internet and the Wisconsin Economy
- Broadband and the Wisconsin Economy
- Broadband in Rural Wisconsin: Identifying Gaps, Highlighting Successes
- Broadband USA: Glossary of Terms
- National Association of Counties Broadband Task Force Report
- WI Governor's Task Force on Broadband Access
- WI Governor's Task Force on Broadband Access Report
- Grantsburg Telcom: Covers Upper-West Polk County
- Lakeland Communications: Covers Most of Polk County (Osceola, Dresser, St. Croix Falls, Balsam Lake, Milltown, Luck, Frederic)
- NextGen Broadband: Covers Lower-East Polk County (Clear Lake)
- Northwest Communications: Covers Mid-Southeast Polk County (Balsam Lake, Amery, Turtle Lake, Clayton)
- Starwire Technologies: Covers Upper-East Polk County (Frederic)
February 2018 – The County Board of Supervisors pass two resolutions establishing Polk County as a Certified Broadband Forward! Community, and supporting broadband expansion grant applications to improve broadband service in Polk County.
2018 – Lakeland Communications, SirenTel, and Northwest Communications are awarded grants for fiber projects in the towns of Lakeland, Lorain, and Apple River, bringing service opportunities to 242 residential and 30 business locations.
2019 – Lakeland Communications and Starwire are awarded grants for fiber projects in the towns of Eureka and Clam falls, bringing service opportunities to 199 residential and 34 business locations.
2020 – The County Board of Supervisors identify expanding broadband as a long-term priority of the County Board, and set three goals: develop a county-wide strategic for the expansion of broadband services to stakeholders; use existing County facilities and infrastructures to expand broadband coverage, and incentivize business and developer expansion of broadband access.
2020 – Lakeland Communications, Northwest Communications, Starwire, and NextGen Broadband are awarded grants for fiber projects in the towns of Eureka, St. Croix Falls, Lincoln, Clam Falls, and the village of Clear Lake, bringing service opportunities to 930 residential and 118 business locations.
2021 – Starwire is awarded grants for fiber projects in the towns of Clam Falls, West Sweden, and Lorain, bringing service opportunities to 265 residential and 31 business locations. NextGen Broadband is also awarded a grant for a project in the town of Alden in Polk County and Star Prairie in St. Croix County, bringing service opportunities to an additional 405 residential and 17 business locations in Polk and St. Croix.
January 2022 – Polk County Administrator Netherland presents a map made up of an up-to-date data set regarding broadband accessibility and availability in Polk County, created from a months-long broadband study in Polk County.
February 2022 – The County Board of Supervisors designated American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds to be allocated for the use of matching grant funds for applications for broadband expansion submitted by local service providers to the State of Wisconsin.
March 2022 – Northwest Communications, Starwire, and Grantsburg Telcom are awarded grants for fiber projects in the towns of Alden, Clayton, Balsam Lake, Garfield, Lincoln, Lorain, and Sterling, bringing service opportunities to 1219 residential and 42 business locations.
July 2022 – Lakeland Communications is awarded two grants for two fiber projects in the towns of Johnstown, Alden, Farmington, and Osceola, bringing service opportunities to 906 residential and 26 business locations.
April 2023 – The County Board of Supervisors reaffirm expanding broadband as a long-term priority of the County Board.
May 2023 – Polk County hosts a luncheon for thirty-five local stakeholders and internet service providers to discuss broadband access, adoption, and affordability in Polk County, and address the unique challenges faced by the County in bridging the digital divide.
May 2023 – Lakeland Communications and Northwest Communications are awarded grants for fiber projects in the towns of Balsam Lake, Saint Croix Falls, and Beaver, bringing service opportunities to 501 residential and 9 business locations.