2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
February 8, 2017 - Introduced by
Joint Legislative Council. Referred to
Committee on Elections and Utilities.
1An Act to renumber
196.504 (1) (a); to amend
20.155 (1) (q), 196.504 (2) (a) and 2
196.504 (2) (c); and to create
196.504 (1) (ab), 196.504 (1) (ad), 196.504 (1) (c) 3
and 196.504 (2) (e) of the statutes;
relating to: broadband expansion grants
4and making an appropriation.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill is explained in the Notes provided by the Joint Legislative Council in
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
Joint Legislative Council prefatory note: This bill was prepared for the Joint
Legislative Council's Study Committee on Rural Broadband.
Under current law, funding for the Broadband Expansion Grant Program is
limited to the unspent funds remaining from a total of $6.0 million that was transferred
from the Wisconsin Universal Service Fund (USF) in 2015 Wisconsin Act 55
. A total of
approximately $3 million remains for grants in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017-18 and FY
2018-19. Under current law, the Public Service Commission (PSC) is not authorized to
raise additional funding for the program through the assessment paid into the USF by
Beginning in FY 2019-20, this bill reserves for the Broadband Expansion Grant
Program $1.5 million annually from the funding that the PSC currently receives from
assessments paid into the USF by telecommunications providers.
Priority Criteria under the Broadband Expansion Grant Program
Current law provides that priority shall be given to projects that promote economic
development. However, current law does not define “economic development.” This bill
defines “economic development” to mean development that is designed to promote job
growth or retention, expand the property tax base, or improve the overall economic
vitality of a town, village, city, county, or region.
Areas with No Broadband Service Providers
Current law provides that priority under the Broadband Expansion Grant
Program shall be given to projects that affect areas with no broadband service providers.
However, the statutes do not define “broadband service.” This bill repeals the
requirement that priority shall be given to projects that affect areas with no broadband
service providers, and it replaces it with a requirement that priority shall be given to
projects in “unserved areas.” This bill authorizes the PSC to designate areas of the state
as “unserved,” and it defines an “unserved area” to mean an area of this state that is not
served by an Internet service provider offering Internet service that is all of the following:
•Wired service or fixed wireless service, which includes service that is a
telecommunications service that provides radio communications between fixed points
but which excludes mobile wireless service and satellite service.
•Provided at actual speeds of at least 20% of the upload and download speed for
high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability as designated by the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its annual inquiries regarding advanced
telecommunications capability. Currently, the FCC's standard for this purpose is 25
Megabits per second (Mbps) download / 3 Mbps upload. Therefore, the current speed
specified in the bill is 5 Mbps download / 600 Kbps upload.
Projects that Will Not Delay the Provision of Broadband Service to
This bill adds a requirement that priority under the Broadband Expansion Grant
Program shall be given to projects that will not result in delaying the provision of
broadband service to areas neighboring areas to be served by the proposed project.
Consideration of Certain Project Impacts
This bill requires the PSC to consider certain project impacts when evaluating
grant applications under the Broadband Expansion Grant Program, but it does not
require priority to be given to projects based on these considerations. Specifically, this bill
requires that the PSC shall consider:
•The degree to which the proposed projects would duplicate existing broadband
infrastructure, information about the presence of which is provided to the PSC by the
applicant or another person within a time period designated by the PSC.
•The impacts of the proposed projects on the ability of individuals to access health
care services from home and the cost of those services.
•The impacts of the proposed projects on the ability of students to access
educational opportunities from home.
20.155 (1) (q) of the statutes is amended to read:
(q) Universal telecommunications service.
From the universal 3
service fund, the amounts in the schedule for the promotion of universal 4
telecommunications service for the purposes specified in s. 196.218 (5) (a) 1., 4., 8. 5and,
9., and 10., except that, in a fiscal year, no more than $1,500,000 may be
6expended for the purpose under s. 196.218 (5) (a) 10. and no more than the amount
7in the schedule less $1,500,000 may be expended for the other purposes under this
196.504 (1) (a) of the statutes is renumbered 196.504 (1) (ac).
196.504 (1) (ab) of the statutes is created to read:
(ab) “Economic development” has the meaning given in s. 196.796 12
196.504 (1) (ad) of the statutes is created to read:
(ad) “Fixed wireless service” has the meaning given in s. 77.51 15
(3rn), except that it does not include mobile wireless service, as defined in s. 77.51 16
(7k), or telecommunications services, as defined in s. 77.51 (21n), transmitted 17
through the use of satellite.
196.504 (1) (c) of the statutes is created to read:
(c) “Unserved area” means an area of this state that is not served 20
by an Internet service provider offering Internet service that is all of the following:
1. Fixed wireless service or wired service.
2. Provided at actual speeds of at least 20 percent of the upload and download 23
speeds for high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability as 24
designated by the federal communications commission in its inquiries regarding 25
advanced telecommunications capability under 47 USC 1302
196.504 (2) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) To make broadband expansion grants to eligible applicants for 3
the purpose of constructing broadband infrastructure in underserved areas 4
designated under par. (d). Grants awarded under this section shall be paid from the 5
appropriation under s. 20.155 (3) (r) (1) (q)
. In each fiscal year, the total amount of 6
the grants may not exceed $1,500,000.
196.504 (2) (c) of the statutes is amended to read:
(c) To establish criteria for evaluating applications and awarding 9
grants under this section. The criteria shall prohibit grants that have the effect of 10
subsidizing the expenses of a provider of telecommunications service, as defined in 11
s. 182.017 (1g) (cq), or the monthly bills of customers of those providers. The criteria 12
shall give priority to projects that include matching funds, that involve 13
public-private partnerships, that affect areas with no broadband service providers 14unserved areas
, that are scalable, that promote economic development, that will not
15result in delaying the provision of broadband service to areas neighboring areas to
16be served by the proposed project,
or that affect a large geographic area or a large 17
number of underserved individuals or communities. When evaluating grant
18applications under this section, the commission shall consider the degree to which
19the proposed projects would duplicate existing broadband infrastructure,
20information about the presence of which is provided to the commission by the
21applicant or another person within a time period designated by the commission; the
22impacts of the proposed projects on the ability of individuals to access health care
23services from home and the cost of those services; and the impacts of the proposed
24projects on the ability of students to access educational opportunities from home.
196.504 (2) (e) of the statutes is created to read:
(e) To designate areas of the state as unserved areas.
This act takes effect on the day after publication, 3
except as follows:
(1) Broadband expansion grants
. The treatment of sections 20.155 (1) (q) and 5
196.504 (2) (a) of the statutes takes effect on July 1, 2019, or on the 2nd day after 6
publication of the 2019-21 biennial budget act, whichever is later.