Wired Wisconsin: FCC report shows need for rural broadband strategy

Contact: Thad Nation, 414.412.7814

Broadband unavailable for 28 percent of rural Americans

MILWAUKEE — A new report released this week by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today shows that more than one in four rural Americans lack access to broadband services. “Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Update to Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy,” places new emphasis on the need to support the expansion of broadband to rural communities.

In Wisconsin, more than 500,000 rural residents do not have access to broadband Internet at download speeds of greater than 3 Mbps per second. More than 1 million rural Wisconsin residents do not have access to broadband speeds greater than 6 Mbps per second, according to the report.

“This clearly demonstrates that rural Wisconsin residents are underserved when it comes to broadband access,” says Thad Nation, executive director of Wired Wisconsin. “We need to take additional steps on both the state and federal level to ensure we reach our goal of 100 percent broadband access, including all rural parts of our state.”

The report, prepared by the FCC in consultation with USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), noted that broadband deployment and adoption remains a top priority for the Obama Administration through ongoing loan and grant programs administered by RUS and regulatory reform measures and tools set forth by the FCC. However, more needs to be done to fulfill the objective for widespread deployment of affordable, quality broadband services to every community.

“The benefits of broadband are too important for us to sit on the sidelines while more than a million rural Wisconsin residents lack proper access,” Nation says. “That’s why Wired Wisconsin is partnering with local business development organizations to host forums to discuss broadband expansion in Stevens Point on June 29 and in Eau Claire next month.

“We hope these events will allow us to start a dialogue with residents and organizations across Wisconsin to determine how best to bring the benefits of broadband to them.”

To find out more about Wired’s upcoming event in Stevens Point, please visit http://www.wiredwisconsin.org/future-of-broadband-technology-panel.

To view the updated FCC report, please visit http://tinyurl.com/ruralbroadbandupdate.