Sometimes it’s helpful to see what the neighbors are doing. It looks like both Wisconsin and Iowa are thinking about boosting their broadband investment – and both cite COVID as a reason for at least emphasizing the issues in rural areas.
The governor [Tony Evers] said he would propose nearly $200 million in broadband funding in his 2021-23 state budget, five times the amount included in the 2013, 2015 and 2017 budgets combined.
His 2019 budget allocated $54 million for broadband expansion in the form of grants to service providers, the largest amount in state history, and the $200 million would nearly quadruple that spending.
“We feel confident that the budget will be in good shape and balanced, and that we will be able to move forward with a few initiatives, one of them being broadband,” Evers said in an interview.
In Governor Kim Reynolds Condition of the State Address Tuesday, she pledged $450 million to be spent on expanding high-speed internet.
Reynolds said the pandemic proved how hard it was for rural communities to get access to quality internet services.
“The past year we have learned that we need better internet for virtual learning, and for those of us who have had to work from home,” said Carole Hebl of rural Oxford.