The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Work on Saxon tower signals beginning of broadband project

 

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe photo

BRANDON YUCHASZ, with GogebicRange.net, aligns a haulback on a communication tower in Saxon Friday as part of an effort to expand broadband internet access to the northern part of Iron County.

SAXON, Wis - The installation of equipment on a communication tower in Saxon was underway Friday, marking the beginning of an effort to expand broadband internet access to the northern portion of the county.

In addition to providing residents near the tower faster internet service, Iron County Development Zone Coordinator Kelly Klein hopes it increases business opportunities in the county.

"We look it at as an economic development project, not only for broadband for businesses but broadband for residents. We look at telecommuting, we look at home-based businesses, which are growing and growing around the county. It's really becoming popular," Klein told the Daily Globe during a trip by several county officials to the tower site. "We can provide this service, we can have that opportunity here too. Look at telecommuting - if a visitor comes up here for a week or two but they can work from up here, maybe they'll stay for a few months instead."

The tower, off Upper Road, is one of three towers in a broadband expansion effort the county received a $41,914 grant from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in December 2015.

The other two towers - one located on Radar Hill near Whitecap Mountains and the town of Anderson and the other being a radio tower in Montreal - will be worked on once the installation is complete on the Saxon tower, according to Brandon Yuchasz, with GogebicRange.net, the internet company the county partnered with for the grant.

Yuchasz said the equipment has a coverage range of 14 miles and service from the Saxon tower could be provided approximately a week from now.

He said he hopes to be working on the Montreal tower in the next couple of weeks, with work on Radar Hill stalled until the new tower purchased by the county is constructed in July.

During a December visit to Hurley to announce the grant, Gov. Scott Walker said the project could potentially impact 30 businesses and 2,000 people.

The estimated cost for the project is approximately $78,699, with the remaining funds coming from a mix of cash and in-kind labor.

The project is phase one of the county's broadband expansion effort, according to Klein, with work underway on another grant application to acquire access to several towers in the Pine Lake, Mercer and Springstead areas.

An add-on to phase two is being discussed that would create a Wi-Fi hotspot at Saxon Harbor.

 
 

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