UBER update, March 2009

We’re making a difference!
Neighbors and Wisconsin residents supporting our initiative is at 700 and growing!
UBER friends and supporters include state Senator Jim Holperin (D-Conover), US Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wisconsin) who had a key role in including $7.2 billion to help deploy broadband nationally as part of the federal stimulus plan, and US Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) who authored important broadband deployment legislation.

Please tell Public Service Commission your broadband story
The Wisconsin PSC wants to know about your broadband needs. When UBER supporters met with PSC and WI Department of Commerce staff last year, we made it clear that many rural residents need broadband to make a living, to do homework, access government services and many other needs. The PSC has just added a Broadband Customer Survey on its Web site at http://psc.wi.gov. Your participation will identify your neighborhood for help making broadband available, using some of the $7.2 billion stimulus funds for broadband loans and grants. If you have difficulty with the PSC online survey click this link to download a pdf copy: Broadband Survery.

UBER has gone statewide!
The PSC survey means the Doyle administration is on board to help rural regions like ours compete for federal stimulus dollars. In addition, the Governor created the Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment (WORR) and its website helps internet service providers and others find stimulus funds for broadband. Scroll down this site to see five related programs: http://www.recovery.wi.gov/programs_details.asp?catname=Science/Technology&locid=164

This is a major development from UBER’s start. When the region’s economic development directors and I kicked off UBER last year, the idea of a stimulus plan didn’t exist. Our modest first steps were to define the problem by mapping areas without broadband and starting to build the public-private partnerships needed to developing a plan for achieving universal broadband availability.

Now, I find myself in the unexpected position of being invited to speak at gatherings of statewide groups who share our understanding that universal broadband is essential. I tell every group this isn’t about me – it’s about you! I’ve been talking with private sector providers, cooperatives, not-for-profit groups, local officials, state agency leaders and many others. Your participating at the very beginning was crucial and your continued support is essential.

Government can help create opportunity
For many residents, wherever they live or work, broadband is a vital utility. Decades ago, government loans played a key role in achieving universal access to two other vital utilities, electricity and telephone. With or without stimulus dollars, the private and public sector need to get together to have a plan, a strategy, on how to reach the “last mile” areas that are currently un-served for broadband access. Only with a plan will we get the biggest bang for our stimulus bucks. Rules written in Washington D.C. will affect how much of the stimulus funds help deploy broadband to un-served rural areas or add more broadband competitors in suburban and urban areas where broadband is available from one provider already.

When you participate in the all-important PSC survey, you may want to emphasize that in Wisconsin, the priority for stimulus funds should be UNSERVED areas, extending broadband to the last mile to achieve universal coverage. If you’re stuck with dial-up, let the PSC know how much time you waste and the things you can’t do because you have no quality, affordable broadband choice. Be specific to the PSC in your survey response, describe the applications you need but can’t use.

Please forward this to neighbors and friends that may also be stuck with dial up.
Whenever I can help you on this or other matters, please be in touch.

With kindest regards,