Bring Universal Broadband to Rural Regions
Madison…..It’s time we get to work extending access to affordable, high-speed internet everywhere in Wisconsin says Senator Dale Schultz.
While high-speed, or broadband, internet service has reached much of the planet, including many third-world countries, Schultz says that many rural Wisconsin residents can only connect to the world wide web through a very slow connection over a telephone, known as dial-up, or by a satellite service that only a few can afford.
“Governor Doyle had the right idea when he made universal, or state-wide, broadband access a goal in his Grow Wisconsin agenda in 2003,” said Schultz (R-Richland Center).
At a meeting in Madison this week, Schultz and regional economic development leaders asked representatives of state agencies to be a partner in the goal of achieving universal broadband for a rural region in southwest Wisconsin.
The Universal Broadband for a Rural Region (UBER) proposal calls for public-private cooperation toward universal broadband. The premise of UBER is that broadband is just as vital to rural residents as their urban neighbors to: attract knowledgeable workers and stem rural brain drain; provide for public safety; attract and help entrepreneurs and farmers to thrive; deliver education services to all ages; deliver tele-healthcare services that enable elderly residents to keep living at home; and deliver e-government services such as Job Center services now that the state has closed most Job Center offices.
Schultz said discussions leading to the UBER proposal included Shannon Clark and Meegan Thompson of Richland County Economic Development Corp; Ricky Rolfsmeyer of Iowa County Economic Development; Mark Fitchett of HLI Corp in Highland; JoAnne Ehasz of Lafayette Development Corp; Anna Schramke of Green County Economic Development Corp; Ralph Kluseman of Advantage365, Inc; Ron Brisbois of Grant County Economic Development Corp; George Krueger of Platteville Area Industrial Development Corp; Laura Brown of Crawford County UW Extension; and Ed White of Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.
“Broadband is available in most of our region’s villages and cities, but that access usually ends at the edge of town or three miles outside of town,” Schultz said. “Broadband has been extended in some rural areas, often by telephone cooperatives, electric cooperatives and small, independent phone companies, but much of the region remains un-served or underserved.”
“UBER proposes a two prong approach,” Schultz said. “The community and private sector broadband providers can cooperate to bring down costs for infrastructure such as antennae sites and fiber optic routing. And, at the local level, a grassroots effort can help residents of all ages gain computer literacy and awareness of how broadband applications can truly benefit the quality of one’s life.”
Schultz is building a network of residents and businesses without good broadband choices and will provide more information about UBER on request. Contact Schultz at email@example.com, at 800.978.8008.