Although broadband access in Wisconsin is growing, the reality is that many regions still don’t have affordable, dependable service.
- When our kids don’t have access to the best technology in the classroom, they enter the workforce ill-prepared. Moreover, children in homes that lack Broadband often find it difficult to complete homework assignments or marticipate in advanced coursework that requires a high speed connection.
- Businesses rely more and more on the internet to get and keep customers—not having broadband access affects not only the economic growth of under-connected communities but also hurts an already struggling jobs climate.
- Healthcare is expensive. The debates raging in Congress are evidence of that. While they work to provide Americans with new healthcare choices, many of us take to the Internet as our go-to medical information source—medical technology innovations can save lives, but only if those who need it have access.
- Wisconsin has a rich history of agriculture and small farming communities. This dear part of our state’s culture is at risk because without access businesses leave and kids don’t come back after college—drying up our rural communities one by one.
The Connecting Wisconsin Solution...........................
We realize that to bring broadband access across Wisconsin, establishing public/private partnerships between businesses, telecommunications companies—large and small—are crucial.
Technology growth, innovation, and access depend on collaboration and strategic ACTION.
To get things rolling, a coalition held the conference Connecting Southwest Wisconsin on April 22, 2010. It was a great success, attracting well over 100 persons from the southwest corner of the state.
The conference got a great kick-off from speaker Andy Lewis of the University of Wisconsin Extension center for Community and Economic Development, who spoke about Broadband being integral to the road to prosperity. Andy's presentation was followed by Bill Gillis, of the Link America Alliance. Link America is the organization conducting the Wisconsin Broadband Mapping Project and Mr. Gillis brought everybody up to speed on the project's initial progress.
Bob Bocher of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Gary Evenson of the Public Service Commission discussed the federal Stimulus grants and efforts by the public sector to bring broadband to more key community institutions.
One of the conference highlights was a presentation by Ross Wilson of Cooperative Area Service Agency #10 on the Chippewa Valley Internetworking Consortium (CINC), an outstanding Community Area network that has been thriving for a decade. Andy Lewis followed Mr. Wilson with a presentation on what a Community Area network is, how they work and how to start one.
The conference ended with Action - breakout sessions for each of five counties represented in which participants began planning action steps.
See the Connecting Wisconsin website for copies of presentations and photos from the event. Stay tuned for more information and possibly more events in the future.
Access to broadband is vitally important to achieving our community and economic development goals, through conferences like Connecting Southwest Wisconsin: The Road to Broadband, we are building public-private partnerships to expedite broadband availability to more places where community members live, work, learn and play to foster economic growth and job creation.