Some Wisconsin cities and counties are considering whether they can use decommissioned fire towers to increase broadband coverage, and the state may take part in those efforts.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources northern region director John Gozdzialski said the agency is looking at whether its 90 outdated fire towers could be turned over to local governments and repurposed for the 21st century.

"We're working with local government to see if any of those towers might be a potential site for a telecom," Gozdzialski said.

Iron County is looking at two towers in the towns of Oma and Sherman that might be used to improve wireless service. Zoning administrator Tom Bergman said some parts of the county still require dial-up service to get online.

"There was just a huge opportunity to try to bring broadband here or adequate service to those people for potential of increase in businesses and (attracting) entrepreneurs," he said.

Bergman said 167 property owners in Iron County who responded to a broadband survey said they would work remotely or start a business if the county had adequate broadband service.

 

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on KUWS-FM 91.3 and online at wpr.org.