Wired Wisconsin: FCC chairman calls state regulations deterrent to broadband growth

Contact: Thad Nation, 414.412.7814

MILWAUKEE — In an interview with Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill this week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski singled out state and local regulations as one of the largest barriers to broadband Internet expansion.

The statement echoed an executive order from President Obama last month ordering a government-wide review of regulations that may be out of date and stifling job growth and economic development.

“There is no question that some regulations in Wisconsin –particularly our state’s outdated telecom laws – are hindering the development of new infrastructure and expansion of technologies like broadband,” said Thad Nation, Executive Director of Wired Wisconsin. “Especially in the current economy, broadband expansion is crucial, not only because of the importance of high-speed Internet access, but because of the economic impact of infrastructure development as well.”

Wisconsin – which hasn’t updated its telecom rules since 1994 – still requires companies to invest in old copper-line technologies that consumers no longer desire. Those requirements are preventing companies from investing in infrastructure for newer technologies like broadband and wireless.

A recent study commissioned by Wired Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Technology Council shows that modernized telecom rules would ultimately create or retain 50,000 jobs in Wisconsin, while having a $2.6 billion impact on the state economy.

Those figures are in line with economic gains seen in other Midwestern states that have passed updated rules.

A study by Wired Wisconsin shows that Ohio has seen more than $540 million of announced investment and 20,000 new jobs since it passed legislation in June. Illinois has seen 8,400 new jobs and $520 million in investment since it passed its version of modernized telecom rules in May.

“While other states have removed a major barrier to broadband expansion, Wisconsin continues to maintain outdated rules that are hampering economic growth and preventing some consumers from enjoying all the benefits broadband has to offer,” Nation said. “Passing comprehensive telecom reform and removing these barriers must be a priority for the State Legislature during this legislative session.”