County receives grant for broadband installation
On Sept. 9, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Walton County to present the award of a Rural Infrastructure Fund Grant to the Board of County Commissioners for the installation of broadband services in the county.
The grant was written by County Grants Coordinator Angie Leddon and was awarded to the county in the amount of $625,000. This grant award will allow the county to continue forward with the installation of their countywide wireless broadband system that will be completed in June of 2022. This system will provide access to 100% of the homes within Walton County. Additionally, Walton County businesses will have access to the service.
Walton County is currently in a contract with Wildstar Networks to design, build, install and operate a fixed wireless network within the whole county. The county will own all infrastructure, but the system will be maintained and operated by Wildstar. It is unknown how many towers or antennas will be needed to achieve 100% county coverage.
The county has a phased approach to the project. Wildstar will begin in Phase A and then work through Phase D. As each phase is covered with the broadband technology, Wildstar will notify the county, and testing will be conducted at multiple locations within the phase to confirm service. Following confirmation, each phase will be open to the public to for service installations.
Wildstar will offer at least two service offerings: Basic Service Plan (25 Mbps download/ 3 Mbps upload) and Enhanced Service Plan (100 Mbps download/ 20 Mbps upload).
While this service will help residents, it is also evident that broadband helps economic growth. It has been proven that businesses will not come to a county that does not have sufficient broadband internet services. Additionally, as seen with the most recent COVID-19 pandemic, students and many businesses were forced to rely on internet service for education and telework
For this process, Wildstar is working to use as many local electricians and engineers as possible to complete the project. Additionally, jobs will be created by Wildstar as they begin the installation of services to the end-users. Walton County is known as "pioneers" of the broadband initiative in Florida and are the first county enter a contract with Wildstar for the installation of a fixed wireless system.
For additional information, please contact Project Manager Jason Cook at Walton County Administration at 850-892-8155. For more details on Wildstar or to preregister for services, visit https://wildstarnetworks.com/.