MADISON – Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday, July 14, signed Executive Order # 80 to create the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access.
The taskforce will advise the governor and the Wisconsin state legislature on broadband actions and policies, including strategies for successfully expanding high-speed Internet access to every home, business, and organization in the state; Digital inclusion initiatives; And the path to unlocking and optimizing the benefits of statewide, affordable access to broadband for all communities in Wisconsin.
“The Covid-1p epidemic was a necessity, not a luxury, and people across our state had to adapt,” said Governor Evers. “This taskforce will bring together research and advice to bring together experts across the state that state leaders can adopt to connect every individual in Wisconsin.”
Governor. According to the Evers office, broadband access is a necessary catalyst for community, public safety, education, health and economic management across the state of Wisconsin, and as noted in a recent report by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19 epidemics There are terrible consequences.
According to the Federal Communications Commission 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, Wisconsin .1% of residents lack access to at least one broadband service at speeds of 25/3 Mbps or better, compared to the national average of 5.6%. This percentage is even deeper in rural areas of our state where 26.7% of Wisconsin residents lack access to at least one broadband service.
In March, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) awarded 24 million through the Broadband Expansion Grant Program, part of a গভ 48 million investment in broadband included in Governor Evers’ first biennial budget. According to Becky Valck, chairperson of the PSC, more money was invested in broadband than in the previous seven rounds of this one-point fund.
In addition to the broadband expansion grant program, creative solutions are needed to remove Wisconsin’s digital divide. The taskforce will foster creativity, collaborative efforts and innovation to engage Wisconsin residents.
“In many cases the hardest part of getting access to everyone is to connect the last half mile, sometimes literally finding ways to connect the country’s roads and homes and business roads.”
The taskforce will produce an annual report that includes recommendations for policies and initiatives to address the current state of broadband in Wisconsin, as well as challenges to statewide access, savings and adoption. Staff support for the taskforce will be provided by the State Broadband Office of the PSC. The first meeting of the taskforce will be later this summer.
A list of taskforce members can be found here.