Wired Wisconsin: New federal data shows Wisconsin trailing in broadband access, number of providers

Contact: Thad Nation, 414.412.7814

MIWAUKEE — Wisconsin is among the worst ranked states in the country in terms of high-speed broadband Internet access and the percentage of households with multiple wireline providers, according to new data released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) last week.

Wisconsin ranked 43rd out of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories in the percentage of households with access to broadband Internet at download speeds of greater than three mbps, and 44th in percentage of households with greater than three wireline broadband providers.

The data was compiled for the NTIS National Broadband Map, a searchable map and database of broadband coverage nationwide.

“This data shows Wisconsin has a lot of work to do if we are to make our goal of 100 percent high-speed Internet access a reality,” said Thad Nation, Executive Director of Wired Wisconsin. “A critical first step is passing comprehensive telecom reform, which will encourage infrastructure development for new technologies like broadband and wireless.”

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 broadband infrastructure in many parts of the state.

In addition to expanding access, modernized telecom rules also promise to grow our economy and create new jobs.

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.

Another study by Wired Wisconsin shows Illinois and Ohio, which have already passed telecom reform, have benefited from a great deal of economic development in the last year alone. Ohio has seen more than $540 million of announced investment and 20,000 new jobs since it passed legislation in June, and Illinois has seen 8,400 new jobs and $520 million in investment since it passed its version of modernized telecom rules in May.

Illinois and Ohio also ranked significantly higher than Wisconsin in terms of high-speed broadband access and the number of providers based on the NTIS data. Illinois was ranked 11th and 39th and Ohio was ranked 13th and 30th in the two categories, respectively.

“Comprehensive telecom reform is a great way to encourage the expansion of broadband Internet infrastructure and service, create new jobs, and grow our economy – all at no cost to the state,” Nation said. “Clearly, the need for such legislation has never been higher, and lawmakers in Madison should work to pass modernized telecom rules as soon as possible this year.”