Wisconsin is looking at the Minnesota Model – regrets not investing in the past

SWNews out of Wisconsin asks readers if they are Stuck with Lousy Internet? They report…

If you live in rural Wisconsin, you know how bad the internet service can be. More than 40 percent of rural residents lack access to high speed internet, according to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Nationally, about 31 percent of rural households lack access. Actual percentages might even be higher due to poor FCC mapping, experts say. More on that later.

And use Minnesota as an example of what they wish they had done…

The Wisconsin government has done relatively little to help. From 2013-2019, the state funded about $20 million in grants for expansion of broadband, an amount experts say is less than negligible. In a similar time period, Minnesota shelled out more than $108 million in broadband expansion grants, and providers had to match those grants with another $146 million, said Eric Lightner, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

That’s a total of $255 million for broadband expansion in Minnesota, more than 10 times greater than Wisconsin’s investment. Now, about 16 percent of rural households in Minnesota lack access to high speed internet, Lightner said.

The pandemic has increased the need…

Adding more urgency to the issue is the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many to work and study from home 100 percent of the time.

“This has become five times more important now than it was before,” said Barry Orton, a telecommunications professor emeritus at UW-Madison, “and it was really important before.”

This entry was posted in Policy, Rural and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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