Wired Wisconsin, Wisconsin Technology Council: Modernized telecom rules introduced in state Legislature

Contact: Thad Nation, 414.412.7814

Bill could create 50,000 jobs, generate billions of dollars for the state

MILWAUKEE — Special Session Senate Bill 13/Special Session Assembly Bill 14, legislation that would update Wisconsin’s outdated telecommunications rules and promote new technological investment, was introduced in the Wisconsin State Legislature on Wednesday.

The legislation, supported by a broad coalition of businesses, chambers of commerce, consumer groups, economic development organizations, and members of the telecommunications industry, would modernize state statutes that have governed telecom companies since 1994. These outdated rules force those companies to invest in old copper-line technologies that consumers and businesses no longer want instead of investing in new technologies like wireless and broadband that create jobs.

“For too long, Wisconsin has been held back from modern infrastructure development – and the jobs and investment that come along with it – because of outdated telecom rules,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “This legislation will finally correct that problem, bring Wisconsin in line with other states, grow our economy, and expand access to modern services like wireless and broadband.”

The economic gains promised by the legislation are significant. A study commissioned by Wired Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Technology Council late last year found that by eliminating the incentives on old technologies and encouraging investment in new ones, modernized telecom rules would create or retain more than 50,000 jobs and positively impact the Wisconsin economy by $2.6 billion.

In addition, beyond the initial economic gains through new infrastructure, expanding access to technologies like wireless and high-speed broadband would help make Wisconsin more competitive for new, high-tech jobs.

“With our economy still struggling and a massive budget deficit in Wisconsin, we need new policies that will spur job creation without putting our state further in the hole, and modernized telecom rules are an essential first step,” said Thad Nation, executive director of Wired Wisconsin. “Other Midwestern states have already passed similar legislation, and have begun to see the positive effects. We can’t afford to be left behind in Wisconsin.”

Another recent report from Wired Wisconsin, based on data from the Illinois Technology Partnership and Technology for Ohio’s Tomorrow, found that Illinois and Ohio, since passing modernized telecom rules in the middle of 2010, have already seen more than $1 billion combined in planned technology investment and nearly 29,000 projected new jobs.

The long-term economic potential of updated telecom laws can be seen in Indiana, which passed its legislation in 2006. Since then, the state has seen nearly $1.5 billion in new telecommunications infrastructure, which in turn has expanded high-speed Internet service to more than 100 additional communities, according to state Rep. Eric Koch, one of the bill’s authors.

“This bill is a win for our economy and consumers across the state,” Nation said. “Updated telecom rules would create new jobs and promote investment, expand access to wireless and broadband technologies, and make our state more competitive – all while ensuring that strong consumer protections are in place at the state and federal levels.

“The benefits of this legislation should be obvious to state legislators on both sides of the aisle, and hopefully they will be able to work in a bi-partisan manner to pass this bill as quickly as possible.”


Wired Wisconsin is the Wisconsin-based project of Midwest Consumers for Choice and Competition (MCCC), a non-profit organization of individual consumers interested in technology, broadband, and telecommunication issues with state projects throughout the Midwest region.

The project will work to support an environment for innovative technology, high-tech job creation, and economic growth. Wired Wisconsin will seek to educate consumers, policy makers, and businesses about technology- related legislative and regulatory issues that impact our lives and advocate for common-sense approaches to spur innovation and grow the economy. For more information, visit http://www.wiredwisconsin.org.