Fiber Upgrades Happening Across State To Bring 5G Elsewhere
By Corrinne Hess
Published: Thursday, November 28, 2019, 5:05pm

For the last year, Cleveland-based fiber technology company Everstream has been expanding into the greater Milwaukee and plans to begin providing service next month, setting the stage for the installation and expansion of 5G cellular technology.

Everstream is investing $27 million in fiber expansion in Milwaukee’s western suburbs into downtown Milwaukee. These fibers can be used by businesses throughout the Milwaukee-area.

The company also plans to spend up to $200 million throughout Wisconsin, adding high-capacity fiber in Madison and Green Bay, said Brett Lindsey, Everstream president and CEO.

Installation of fiber has already begun in Madison and is expected to be completed in early 2020. Work in Green Bay’s fiber installation is expected to begin in 2020 with completion expected in early 2021, Lindsey said.

Everstream is a network provider for businesses, with about 50 percent of its revenue coming from selling network services to places like the Fiserv Forum. The other half comes from selling to wholesale carriers, like Sprint and AT&T.

Fifth generation, or 5G wireless, is talked about a lot, but is a mystery to most people. Only a handful of cities have it including Sacramento, Houston, Los Angeles and Indianapolis, according to NPR.

The promise of 5G lies in its speed. It will decrease buffering on applications like Netflix and documents and other files will download faster, Lindsey said.

Experts say 5G will also create innovation in manufacturing and medicine.

5G is also built differently than current network technology. Currently, cell towers are huge and cover several miles. 5G cell towers are small and cover only a couple thousand feet. They can easily be installed on telephone poles and light poles, according to NPR.

In July, Gov. Tony Evers signed Senate Bill 239, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 14, making it easier to facilitate the installation and expansion of 5G cellular technology across the state.

The work Everstream is doing in Milwaukee coincides with the Democratic National Convention, which will be held in the city July 13-16.

“The wireless operators all want that in advance for the DNC, because of the influx of people that will be coming into the community to make sure the bandwidth is sufficient to support the hundreds of thousands of people that will be coming into Milwaukee,” Lindsey said.

Omar Shaikh, who chairs Visit Milwaukee, said he doesn’t know if 5G will be ready for the Democratic National Convention, but he welcomes the work Everstream is doing.

“If companies are willing to come in for a major event, we need to welcome that,” Shaikh said. “It is going to be so much easier to sell the city if we are on the forefront of technology and we have the infrastructure moreso than any other city.”