State officials have authorized $1.5 million in broadband expansion grants for rural Wisconsin in fiscal-year 2016.
Eleven grants were approved by the Public Service Commission, ranging in size from $41,914 to more than $286,000.
The largest grant, $286,165, went to Wisconsin Independent Network, LLC, in Chippewa County, followed by $249,093 to ChoiceTel, a telecom in the Town of Land O' Lakes.
This is the third year the PSC has awarded broadband grants. In 2014, it approved $500,000 in grants to seven applicants, and in 2015 it awarded $452,579 to seven applicants.
Without government assistance, broadband providers say, they could not afford to extend the service to sparsely populated areas because there aren't enough customers to justify the cost.