SMALL TOWNS PREVIEW: Connecting Washington Island

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 6:26 AM CST
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WASHINGTON ISLAND, Wis. (WBAY) - Washington Island is known for its natural beauty and splendor. It also has some of the poorest internet services in the country. Times are changing.

Thursday on Small Towns, Jeff Alexander discovers what a new fiber optic cable means to the 700 folks who call the island home.

The island has experimented with dial-up internet, broadband, and DSL. In 2018, Washington Island caught a break in an unexpected way. The main power cable running from the mainland under Death’s Door failed, leaving the island without power for 12 days.

Disaster aid covered half the cost of the installation of a new $4 million, five-mile-long submarine cable. It had a fiber optic line.

“To say this was a black hole of internet would be an understatement,” said Nathan Drager, Quantum Technologies president. “So when we found out there was a possibility of fiber coming over here that was really kind of mindblowing.”

“I would put it on an equivalent of getting electricity to be quite honest with you,” said Robert Cornell, Washington Island Electric Cooperative Manager.

The race is on to connect homes and businesses with high-speed internet. The process started a few months ago.

Thursday on Action 2 News at 6, Jeff takes us on a trip to Washington Island to see the difference this connection is making for the residents.

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