The chair of a Task Force on Broadband Access says getting a handle on who does and doesn't have access to fast internet is something they need to do right away.
Two weeks ago, Governor Evers created the task force to advise his office and the legislature about getting affordable broadband to all. Brittany Beyer is Executive Director of Grow North Regional Economic Development, serving several northeastern Wisconsin counties.
Grow North is a partner with Wisconsin Economic Development. She is also a member of a state Blue-Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity. Beyer says some issues are clear...
"Quite clearly, connectivity is an issue in our rural communities but also in our very urban, dense communities and the price of broadband connection can be prohibitive for some of the families...."
She says 22 percent of state residents living in rural areas don't have high-speed internet. She says the task force will need to dig deep into current information to figure out just where things are right off the top....
"A lot of what I'm planning to do outside of the committee meetings is making sure that I'm hearing from practitoners inside the field, in communities. Some other states about what has been working. Other groups that have been studying broadband...."
Beyer says she wants the process to be open and communicate along the way. Evers says the COVID-19 outbreak has shown a need to prioritize broadband statewide for schools, businesses, tourists or medicine. The task force will prepare an annual report including recommendations.e.
The task force’s first meeting will be yet this summer.