By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bridging the state's digital divide
Placeholder Image
You'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't agree that the Internet has revolutionized our daily lives. We can communicate faster and cheaper than ever before, get up-to-date news with the click of a mouse, and do our banking and shopping without ever leaving the couch. Whether you're permanently attached to your Blackberry, or still haven't quite figured out e-mail, our world is now wired, and it's likely to stay that way.

For businesses, the proliferation of the Internet is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the plus side, it helps reduce costs, connects customers with the specialized goods and services they want, and generally makes business transactions easier and more efficient. On the other hand, it's nearly impossible to run a business without high speed Internet. It doesn't matter if your business is big or small, run out of a corporate office park or your home office - the Internet is critical for success.

Unfortunately, lack of high speed connectivity is a serious problem that persists in communities all across Wisconsin. Because of the high cost of developing broadband infrastructure, Internet providers wait until they have a critical mass of customers before investing in an area. Urban areas reap the benefits of high speed Internet, while small towns and rural communities are left to rely on outdated services like dial-up. It's almost as if entrepreneurs who live in the wrong zip codes are doomed to fail, which is bad for business and bad for Wisconsin, especially in these challenging economic times.

Thanks to the leadership of Wisconsin Congressman Dave Obey, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $7 billion in loans and grants for the purpose of improving our nation's broadband infrastructure. The funds will be made available to state and localgovernments, as well as private companies, to help make the necessary investments in broadband infrastructure. Wisconsinites should take note, however, that we are competing for funding with every other state in the nation. We must be able to make the case that Wisconsin citizens and Wisconsin businesses want and need high-speed Internet.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) has launched a survey to help identify broadband needs in Wisconsin, so our state will be well-positioned to compete for federal funding. I urge all Wisconsin residents to visit HTUhttp://psc.wi.govUT, where you can share your experiences with Wisconsin's broadband infrastructure and express your ideas about how it can be improved. If you can't access the survey online, you can call the PSC to get a hard copy at (888) 816-3831, or my office at (888) 534-0005.

A fully wired Wisconsin won't happen overnight. But the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides an incredible opportunity to help build Wisconsin's broadband infrastructure. By acting now, we can ensure that no matter where they live, Wisconsinites have access to the technology that makes our world run.