The Minocqua town board has agreed to pay $34,000 to join in a feasibility study that could lead to high-speed Internet availability within most of the town.
But there are no guarantees.
Vilas County Economic Development has joined with the Lac du Flambeau tribe in a study to determine a plan for greater access. The tribe is applying for federal grants to fund the infrastructure, but part of the grant process is a comprehensive feasibility study. To increase the number of people covered, the group asked Minocqua if they could help fund the study. In return, the town gets a study it could use even if the tribe doesn't get the federal funding to become an Internet provider.
Bill Lochte from Vilas County Economic Development said they recognized the Northwoods is losing people and businesses to areas with fast Internet. He says they partnered with the tribe and their engineering firm to do the study..
".....but when you asked us to look at the entire township...150 miles I understand...that was a horse of a different color, so to speak. We then submitted a preliminary proposal to you guys, and we're waiting to embrace that because of the regional benefit we see for everybody...."
The tribe is expecting to hear back on the federal grant proposals by fall. If successful, the tribe would use the money to build the infrastructure to supply Internet to underserved areas of Vilas county and Minocqua.