Today, having access to reliable broadband internet is as essential as having water or electricity. The world has changed, from streaming tv shows, video calling our kids, and emailing coworkers across the country, our lives have moved online. It’s time our government recognized that and helped our entire state adapt to this new reality. Our campaign is committed to rewiring Wisconsin. We have a vision for a Wisconsin that offers the best quality of life possible. And access to high-speed Internet service is fundamental to making that happen. Here’s just some of what that will mean:
- A laid-off factory worker can get training for a new career path.
- A graduating high school student can apply to college or look for jobs.
- A single mom can finish her degree online after her kids are in bed
- A grandmother can check the side effects of her medications or video chat with her grandchildren.
- An entrepreneur can start an online business, no matter which part of the state they live in.
- First responders will have quicker access to more accurate information and will arrive faster where they’re needed.
- A healthcare facility in a small northern Wisconsin town will be able to offer many of the same high-level services now available only at large, metropolitan hospitals.
- Tourists can go anywhere in the state and still check their email and relax by streaming their favorite television shows.
Currently, our state ranks 32nd in the nation in broadband connections. And that’s unacceptable. So is:
- As of late last year, about 200,000 people in our state live in areas with no wired Internet providers.
- Around three-quarters of a million Wisconsinites – roughly 13 percent of our state’s population – still didn’t have access to wired broadband offering at least 25 megabytes per second.
That’s like trying to peddle your way onto the Information Superhighway!
The technology is out there to expand broadband into every home in the state. And so is the money. Gov. Scott Walker has awarded money to Internet service providers to make it happen. But it’s not happening fast enough.While The state is still pockmarked with vast areas where broadband is either unavailable or unreliable. Instead of sending $4 billion dollars to Foxconn, Scott Walker should have invested that money to bring broadband internet access to Wisconsinites who critically need it.
Where is the accountability? Who’s holding these private internet providers feet to the fire so that we make sure the companies are working as fast as they can to enable people in towns such as Summit and Superior in northern Wisconsin can connect to the web? The truth is that all Wisconsinites are paying too much for low-quality digital access. We have an opportunity to bring this vital infrastructure to our state, but it means moving away from the current cronyism in Madison, and to shift the priorities from big corporate benefits to Wisconsin citizens.
Statewide broadband internet may seem intimidating, but it can be done. We’ve already seen it happen in places like Maine and Tennessee. For example, in Chattanooga, the municipally owned fiber-optic networked earned it the nickname, “Gig City” for bringing high-speed Internet access to all its residents. And, if it can be done in the heart of Appalachia, with the right leadership and vision, it certainly can be done here in Wisconsin.
I pledge to you that I’ll fight to make this happen. We should be building communities across our state that are on an equal playing field in the 21st-century economy. Statewide digital access is essential to making that happen. When we invest in the opportunities of the future, we will build, strong, vibrant communities where every generation can live, work and thrive.