Bloomer (WQOW) - Wisconsin still ranks near the bottom of the nation in access to high-speed internet in rural areas, but data shows the state is making progress.
Last year, 28 percent of rural populations were without broadband access, down from 43 percent in 2018.
Part of the reason is the cost. According to the Department of Public Instruction, 20 percent of Wisconsin households earn less than $25,000 a year.
Internet service in the state runs at around $600 to $800 each year.
To close the gap even more, some local communities are getting creative.
All students in the Bloomer School District will soon be able to access the internet thanks to a partnership between the district, Bloomer Telephone Company and the region's Cooperative Educational Service Agency.
They're now expanding the broadband region to include roughly 350 new households within the school district that did not previously get high-speed internet.
"The partnership with the school just really made sense because we're reaching children who were in the Bloomer School District but outside of our natural territory," Bloomer Telephone Company General Manager Kent Klima said. "Being able to provide services so they can have that interconnectivity for school activities, they can work on homework from home, they can research things. So it was a need that was met."
Right now, 150 households are already set up or will be soon.