With broadband and expanded internet, our small business owners, family farmers, food processors, manufacturers, the healthcare industry and education system, to name a few, can continue to grow, thrive and employ more people. Slow and unreliable internet must be a thing of the past. Approximately 430,000 Wisconsin residents do not have adequate broadband access. This means that 25% of rural residents across the state are not competitive in the 21st century economy.
Solving this problem helps everyone – whether it’s a farmer who relies on reliable internet to get their product to market, or a Main Street cafe updating their point of service system to increase efficiency. As we continue to learn, work, and socialize from home during this global pandemic, we have the perfect opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get shovel-ready broadband projects underway.
Investing in public-private partnerships is also key to meeting the specific needs of any community. Through innovation, community support, and assistance from state and federal broadband grants and loans, communications cooperatives have become advanced and reliable providers of rural broadband services. If we give local vendors the resources they need to be successful, they can keep costs down, upgrade their technology, and reach more people.
Networking has been going on in rural Wisconsin communities for over a century, but now more than ever, we need the power of technology to stay connected. Broadband is no longer a luxury. it’s a necessity. Telemedicine, virtual learning, and business development all rely on strong digital skills to power their operations. I will work with everyone in every party to ensure that everyone in Wisconsinite has fast, reliable, and affordable internet access.
Senator Brad Pfaff, D-Onalaska, represents the 32nd Senate District of Wisconsin, which includes La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford, and southern Monroe Counties.
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