Old Fire Towers Could Help Broadband Expansion

DNR, Local Communities Exploring How To Use Decommissioned Structures

fire tower
Mick Stanic (CC-BY-NC)

Some Wisconsin cities and counties are considering whether they can use decommissioned fire towers to increase broadband coverage. The state may turn over some of its decommissioned structures to local governments.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources northern region director John Gozdzialski said they’re looking at whether their 90 outdated fire towers could be repurposed for the 21st century.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,” said Gozdzialski.

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Iron County is looking at two towers in the towns of Oma and Sherman that may be used to improve wireless service. Zoning administrator Tom Bergman said some areas are still using dial-up 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 attract 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 service.