Given the importance of information and communication to our economy and in our daily lives, improving technology is critical to ensuring accessibility and connectivity to the Internet. One of the concerns I frequently hear from area residents is the issue of availability of broadband Internet access. While some communications providers have done excellent work in improving access to their customers, there remain frustrating gaps in high-speed connections to the Internet.
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), an independent agency responsible for the regulation of Wisconsin public utilities, is seeking citizen input to help improve high speed Internet service in Wisconsin. Broadband Internet access is crucial for economic development and PSC is collecting information for policy makers at the state and local level for future broadband planning.
Together with community leaders and LinkWISCONSIN, PSC has developed surveys to collect information about coverage areas. Results of the surveys will be used to map out adequate and inadequate coverage areas, see where unmet demand for high speed Internet exists, and to show providers of broadband service the areas where improvement is necessary.
If you have Internet access, you can take the personal survey at http://wisconsindashboard.org/residence-survey or for your business by visiting http://wisconsindashboard.org/business-survey. If you do not have Internet access, please contact the PSC staff working on this project at 608-267-2338 to receive a hard copy of the survey by mail. The survey deadline is September 30th. More information on this project can be found online at www.link.wisconsin.gov.
In addition to this effort to identify areas of need, I was pleased that funding for a grant program to encourage broadband expansion in underserved areas of the state was included as part of the state budget. The State Legislature acted to provide $4.3 million for this grant program, which will be administered by the Public Service Commission (PSC). Under the proposal, local units of government, organizations, cooperatives, or telecommunications utilities may apply for these funds to expand access in their communities.
I welcome your thoughts and comments on this or any other issue before the State Legislature. Please visit my website at www.harsdorfsenate.com or feel free to call my office at 1-800-862-1092 or 608-266-7745.