TDS urges Gov. Evers to sign bill to encourage rural broadband development
TDS Telecom (TDS®) is urging Gov. Tony Evers to sign a bill into law that creates a telephone company property tax exemption for property used to provide broadband service to rural or underserved areas. Assembly Bill 344, and companion bill Senate Bill 321, received strong bi-partisan support and was approved in the Senate on a 33-0 vote. This legislation will provide TDS with another tool in its efforts to expand its fiber footprint to more markets in the state.
“TDS provides broadband services in 30 states across the country, so when prioritizing where to spend capital on broadband, the exemption makes Wisconsin an attractive option when deciding where to build,” said TDS’ Drew Petersen, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs. “We certainly appreciate the Wisconsin State Legislature and the Governor’s support of this bill. We believe this law will lead to more broadband services in rural and underserved areas, while at the same time providing incentives for new investments in our state.”
For several years, TDS has been investing millions of dollars in building and maintaining its network to provide faster broadband speeds for our customers. In 2017 and 2018, TDS invested over $90 million in Wisconsin. In 2019 and 2020, TDS expects to invest another $135 million. TDS service areas are primarily in rural and suburban areas.
“With these investments, TDS has shown its dedication to providing broadband to its customers today and is committed to delivering the fastest, most reliable internet service in the future,” said Petersen.
TDS testified in support of AB344 in September and in support of SB321 in November. The committees which held public hearings on the legislation both approved the bills with unanimous, bipartisan votes.
To qualify for the telephone company property tax exemption, broadband installations prior to Jan. 1, 2020, must provide internet access at speeds of at least 25/3Mbps to a rural area. Property installed after Dec. 31, 2019, must be used to provide Internet access service to a rural or underserved area at those same speeds or, if higher, speeds designated by the Federal Communications Commission. Because the telephone company property tax is collected by the state, there is no fiscal impact on local government property tax revenue.