IXONIA -- Approximately 240 homes in the town of Ixonia will have access to new high-speed internet service this fall under a wireless broadband expansion project partially paid for by state grant funds.
The new offering of high-speed internet service by Netwurx Internet LLC is part of a broadband service expansion program that started in 2018 after the Wisconsin Public Service Commission awarded the town of Watertown and Netwurx a grant of $150,690 to improve access to unserved and under-served parts of the area.
"This is great news for residents in areas of Ixonia where internet service has been mostly slow, expensive and unreliable," said Amy Rinard, Jefferson County board supervisor from Ixonia and chairwoman of the county's Broadband Working Group. "Netwurx has been an excellent partner working with local governments, and now Jefferson County, to expand access to high-speed broadband service for our residents."
Rinard said Ixonia residents who are eligible to sign up for the new high-speed Neturx service will soon receive a postcard in the mail giving them information about how they can begin the process of purchasing the service and be scheduled for installation of necessary equipment.
She added that, as future expansions of the Netwurx Broadband service are rolled out in the grant area -- which includes the towns of Watertown, Farmington and Ixonia -- residents eligible for the service will be notified by mail. Information will also be available in the news media, social media and on the town of Watertown and Netwurx websites.
Ken "Doc" Baehler, director of business development for Netwurx, said the 240 homes that will soon be seeing broadband available are spread out around Ixonia and Watertown.
"We have a list of addresses that will be put on the town of Watertown and Netwurx websites," Baehler said, adding the homes are not "clustered" as a lay person might think. Baehler said equipment is placed on high structures and the radius can be 4-8 miles within a line of sight.
"So the list can appear to have service in a widespread area, but not street-to-street or block-to-block," he said.
Baehler said Netwurx has already completed the second part of its process that will affect the approximately 240 residences in the towns of Ixonia and Watertown and will send out postcards to the affected addresses. Residents should begin receiving these cards in two to three weeks.
According to Baehler, things have been progressing well for Netwurx in Jefferson County in its broadband expansion effort.
"Through the PSC Broadband Expansion Grant for the town of Watertown, Netwurx has completed most of the upgrades to equipment and is beginning projects where new equipment is being implemented," he said. "During these two rollout steps for this grant, we've been able to cover an area providing high-speed internet to more than 500 addresses. We will be implementing the third step by the end of September and yet another step by the end of October, weather permitting."
Baehler stressed that broadband professionals do not climb towers in anything less than perfect weather.
Baehler addressed the larger question of when Netwurx hopes to have all of Jefferson County covered with broadband.
"The PSC Broadband Expansion Grant is for the town of Watertown and parts of the towns of Ixonia and Farmington. This was defined in the application submitted to the PSC for the fiscal year 2019 grant cycle," Baehler said. "However, Jefferson County has a broadband work group that is currently working on plans to address high-speed internet for Jefferson County. They have reached out to me to present information on different solutions to provide broadband and discuss grant options."
Baehler said more detailed information will come in the next few weeks. He added that Dodge County has also created a broadband work group and had asked him to present information regarding high-speed internet and available grants.
He said the Dodge County work group has completed some of its tasks and he believes its members will report to their executive committee and the Dodge County board in the next week or two.
"Once that has been completed, I will have a much better idea on the game plan to provide broadband to the county over the next few years," he said.
For more detailed information about the process of implementing the high-speed internet services, the public is invited to visit the town of Watertown or Netwurx websites and look for the grant icon.