Governor Walker wants more rural high-speed access to internetGovernor Scott Walker says he wants to expand access to high-speed internet across Wisconsin's rural areas.
By: By Maureen McCollum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Governor Scott Walker says he wants to expand access to high-speed internet across Wisconsin's rural areas.
There are still pockets around western and northern Wisconsin where residents do not have access to high-speed internet. In the areas that do, many customers only have one or two providers to choose from.
At a recent stop in La Crosse, Walker said this is a concern, especially for businesses.
“In a global economy, that’s an imperative. Whether ... it’s a start-up business, that literally someone starts out of their garage, it could be in almost any technology, any industry possible,” he said. “If we want to compete globally, we’ve got to have any entrepreneur, any business operator in the state: We’ve got to work on ways to provide access to that.”
Walker says they’ll focus on broadband expansion in the state budget, which is being released next month. Repeated requests for more information from the governor’s office went unanswered.
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin broadband director Tithi Chattopodhyay says smaller populations and topography can play a role in preventing companies from putting in fiber optic cables or wireless internet.
“If you move up north where there are forests and so on, it’s hard to make a business for putting in the fiber there,” Chattopodhyay said.
The PSC will soon send out surveys to learn more about broadband needs across the state.
Governor Walker’s office returned a $23 million federal stimulus grant in 2011 that would have expanded broadband in schools, government agencies, and libraries in rural areas. The administration reportedly felt there were too many contractual strings attached.