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Lac du Flambeau, region working to expand broadband Internet in northwoods region

UNDATED (WXPR) -- The expansion of regional broadband Internet service in the northwoods is important to many, including the Lac du Flambeau tribe.

A slow but steady move forward is how a spokesperson for the Lac du Flambeau tribe describes the effort to provide a regional high­-speed internet service.

The tribe, Vilas County Economic Development and the town of Minocqua and others are partners in the effort.

Tribal Education Director Joni Theobald says a key step was a completed feasibility study. “It's a completed feasibility (study) and now were looking at how do we slowly roll this out? How do we leverage the federal funding that comes with these types of developments. In a nutshell, that is where we are at."

Theobald says the group didn't pursue one avenue of funding because there were too many strings attached. Instead, they are looking at other funding avenues. Theobald says federal mandates coming this year will require new strategies. "Yes, we're to dream and say we want to roll out a fiber deployment that serves Vilas, Oneida, Iron counties, actually the northern region, depending on the funding, depending on how successful we could be looking at five years. If we're rolling it out slowly, being very strategic, maybe not successful with funding, it could take 15 to 20 years."

She says the group is looking at fiber optic deployment of commercial­-sized bandwidth. They've also completed a mapping project. The project is in the millions of dollars, but with a slow roll out as funding is available, Theobald says the project is manageable. She says education needs in the Northwoods are dependent on improved high­-speed access.