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Business & Economics

Broadband map could help Northwoods communities plan for infrastructure expansion

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Wisconsin was recently added to Citizen’s National Broadband Map.

It’s a crowdsourced mapping tool created by people who run speed tests from their home computers and cell phones.

Brittany Beyer is the executive director of Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation and chair of Governor Evers Task Force on Broadband. She says that’s just one element of the map.

“The real tool is for our communities. A lot of our counties have broadband committees that are working. They’ll be able to access this back-end tool suite that will be able to help them put together better broadband planning,” said Beyer.

She says the state will be seeing unprecedented funding in the next couple of years to expand and improve broadband.

Wisconsin will be getting at least $100 million from the federal infrastructure bill.

“This is an area of the state that will really benefit from that, but we want to make sure that we know exactly how to use these dollars prudently, efficiently, and accurately to get as many of our residents, our businesses, our schools, our municipal buildings wired for today, and thinking about where broadband needs are going to go in the future,” said Beyer.

Right now, looking at the map for Wisconsin, black, yellow, green, red, and blue dots span a stretch from Madison northeast across the state to Green Bay area.

Much of the rest of the state is blank.

Beyer says this is because New North has been using it for a regional broadband plan.

Now, all 72 counties in the state will have access to it.

Beyer says counties up here each have committees focused on broadband.

“Those committees are going to be able to access the backend that I’m talking about, that has all of these different tools to help them make better plans. They’ll then be able to use that information to plan out how they’re going to work with providers to get to every single corner that they can,” said Beyer.

Beyer says this tool will also be helpful to the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

“It’s really important that this piece is moving while we’re doing the work of the task force because the task force knows that in order to be ready for all of the dollars that are going to be flowing, that task force going to be thinking about the process and getting everything aligned,” she said.

There are 16 others states currently using the Citizen’s National Broadband Map.

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