Wisconsin Broadband Forward – good for providers and communities?

Earlier this month, Wisconsin announced a new program intended to streamline broadband deployment for providers by eliminating and/or drastically reducing barriers created from local government. Here’s what the press release from Scott Walker said…

Governor Scott Walker joined community leaders and state officials at Vernon Communications Cooperative today to announce the official launch of Wisconsin’s Broadband Forward! Community Certification Program. The program coordinates and streamlines administrative procedures for the deployment of next generation broadband technologies by providing a new “Broadband Forward! Community” designation for units of local government who wish to participate.

“Improving the speed and efficiency of broadband throughout Wisconsin is crucial to the continued economic success of our communities,” Governor Walker said. “The Broadband Forward! Community certification allows communities to distinguish themselves by eliminating obstacles to infrastructure investment.”

“Broadband Forward! Community certification is a welcome mat for more broadband investment. A streamlined permitting process and reasonable fee structure is a win-win for everyone involved,” explained Bill Esbeck, Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association.

Wisconsin communities choosing to be designated as a “Broadband Forward! Community” must comply with certain procedures for reviewing applications and permits related to broadband infrastructure projects with the goal of streamlining the process for approving local broadband investment. Municipalities interested in applying are encouraged to visit the Public Service Commission’s website here for more information.

This will be helpful for the providers. I remember Google releasing a checklist of what they find attractive in a potential community – money and tax credits weren’t on the list. Ease of work was. Sounds like Wisconsin has borrowed from that mentality.

My only question is – where is the checklist or certification program for the providers? (There are some good resources – like the Benton Foundation Guide to Partnerships – but it’s not really a tool to measure providers.) People tease me because I often compare attracting a provider to attracting a prom date. And here’s just one similarity, it seems like there are more articles on how to get a prom date than how to choose one. Same with providers. It would be nice to balance the Wisconsin Forward certification for communities with a certification for providers.

This entry was posted in Community Networks by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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