Unraveling Broadband in Wisconsin - Center for Community ...


Unraveling Broadband in Wisconsin - Center for Community ...

from the director

The Role of County Government

in Broadband

–Mark D. O’Connell, Executive Director, Wisconsin Counties Association

Counties play a critical

role in making informed

decisions on investments

in economic development, public

safety and delivering government

services that keep communities

strong and vital.

Community broadband (high

speed internet) is an issue that can

greatly influence all of these areas.

It is incumbent on county leaders

to understand this issue and how

it is a vital and constantly growing

piece of community infrastructure that has the potential

to improve tax base, increase jobs and improve public

services while cutting costs.

The first step for counties is to understand broadband

for what it is – a must-have utility that can bring

prosperity to local areas. While broadband does not

guarantee economic prosperity, counties without it will

be excluded from many economic opportunities and

not be considered as a desirable place to live by much

of the workforce. County boards can take a leadership

role in helping others become educated by utilizing the

technology, learning what the challenges are for local

broadband providers, acting as catalysts for increasing

and improving broadband for businesses, community

institutions and residents. Help to do this is available.

One valuable resource you will recognize as a longtime

partner of the Wisconsin Counties Association

(WCA), as well as county governments across the state.

The University Wisconsin-

Extension (UWEX) has launched

the Center for Community

Technology Solutions to work

with county governments to help

leaders understand the importance

of broadband, the complex

issues involved with connecting

communities to broadband, and

working with leaders to implement

effective strategies for improving a

community’s broadband connection.

The center, launched in November

2012, will be conducting listening sessions during the first

three months of 2013 to understand county needs and

questions around broadband. Following these sessions,

the center will work directly with interested counties to

help develop locally led community broadband solutions.

Help your communities become better positioned to

compete, more prepared to leverage local tax dollars and

able to address brain drain. Take a first step by reading the

articles to be found in this edition of Wisconsin Counties

to better acquaint yourself to the issues surrounding

broadband in Wisconsin.

Follow up by inviting folks from the UWEX’s center

to visit your county (toll free: 855-306-8050, e-mail:

wibroadband@uwex.edu). As always, WCA stands ready

to help you tackle the challenges presented to your county;

call us any time for help in addressing the unique issues

that surround the implementation of statewide broadband

in Wisconsin.

4 u January 2013




–UW-Extension Center for Community Technology Solutions

Build it and they will come” is not a truism

for community high speed internet. Those

building out high speed community

networks are learning that outreach to and education

for people who are not online is a critical component

of making broadband investments successful for a

community. This type of effort is often called “closing

the digital gap” or “bridging the digital divide.” The

young “digital natives” within our community often

need no introduction to broadband technology.

However, segments of the population need training

in order to become “digital immigrants” who are

comfortable in using technology.

According to the Pew Research Center, the top

three obstacles to broadband adoption are digital

literacy and trust, relevance and cost. Training on how

to use the Internet is critical to closing the digital gap.

Through training, many participants come to realize

how integral the Internet has become to everyday

tasks like paying bills, applying for jobs, filing for

Veteran’s benefits, searching for medical information

and helping with kids’ homework. There are economic

benefits as well: Consumers with broadband at home

can save more than $7,000 a year.

24 January 2013


According to the Federal Communications

Commission (FCC), fully one-third of all Americans

– 100 million people – have not adopted broadband

at home. Compare that to South Korea and Singapore

where adoption rates top 90%.

There is a growing divide between the digitalhaves

and have-nots:






Less than one-third of the poorest Americans

have adopted broadband, while 90%(+) of the

richest have adopted it.

Less than 50% of African Americans, Latinos, elderly

and rural populations have adopted broadband.

About 46% of low-income families have adopted

broadband at home compared with over 90% of

higher income families.

Low-income Americans, rural Americans, seniors

and minorities disproportionately find themselves

on the wrong side of the digital divide and

excluded from the $8 trillion dollar global Internet


80%+ of Fortune 500 companies require online job

applications (including major employers such as

Wal-Mart, Target, Costco and ExxonMobil).

continues on page 34

Key Stakeholders

Like water and electricity, high capacity

internet (“broadband”) is quickly

being viewed as a 21st century necessity

for communities, businesses and

household consumers: to have it opens

the possibility for economic success.

The number of parties that recognize

broadband as a benchmark for economic

development is growing. This is good

news for Wisconsin. As more and more

people become educated about the

value of broadband, our state is much

more able to compete both nationally

and globally. The graphic to the left shows

some of the key stakeholders helping to

lead an effort to increase connectivity in

Wisconsin and increase understanding of

the value of broadband.

Glossary of Terms

Northern Regional Broadband Networks Forum, Excerpted from


25 u January 2013

4G A marketing term for 4th generation

wireless technology with transmission

speeds typically in the range of

1-10 Mbps. Not necessarily faster than

3G service, just the next generation.

Backbone A robust central transmission

line (or a collection of transmission

lines) that links many smaller local

networks via connections known as

network access points. It can be a local

backbone for a group of office buildings

or local area, linking smaller networks to

create a wide area network (WAN); or

the Internet backbone itself.

Bandwidth The amount of data that

can be sent in a time period.

Broadband A commonly-used term

for high-speed Internet. The definition

of “high-speed” is constantly redefined

with technology changes, but the National

Broadband Plan defines a minimum

residential standard for broadband

which is 4 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload.

Cloud Computing The growing

practice for online applications to be

housed online (in data centers), rather

than on an individual’s computer or a

smaller company’s servers.

DSL Digital Subscriber Line Internet

Service. Provides high-speed networking

over ordinary phone lines using

broadband technology. DSL technology

allows Internet and telephone service to

work over the same phone line without

disconnecting either service. Typically

delivers 2Mbps or lower for downloads

and up to 512 Kbps for uploads. Service

declines when multiple subscribers

compete for access.

Dark Fiber A fiber strand that is not

being used by any entity and carries no

Internet traffic, i.e., fiber that is not “lit”

by equipment transmitting data via light.

Gbps Gigabits per second. Data rate

of 1,000,000,000 bits per second (bps);

also 1,000 Mbps.

ISP Internet Service Provider. A company

that supplies Internet connectivity

to home and business customers. ISPs

operate networks that connect end-users

to the Tier 1 Internet, allowing them

to access resources worldwide. ISPs

function as on-ramps to the Internet.

Last Mile Segment of telecommunications

network that connects the local

provider to the customer. The type

of cable and distance to the telecommunications

provider determines the

amount of data/speed and services

available to the customer.

LinkWisconsin A statewide

initiative to promote the availability

and sustainable adoption of broadband

internet access. This effort is managed

by the Wisconsin Public Service

Commission (PSC). See: http://www.


January 2013 u 25



–The Broadband Team at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

The Public Service Commission of

Wisconsin (PSCW) recognizes

that the availability and adoption of

broadband is the new challenge of

today’s world. Broadband has become

a critical tool for economic growth,

job creation, global competitiveness

and improved communication in

both our professional and social

lives. Recognizing this, the PSCW

was designated to receive federal

funds to administer a statewide broadband planning and mapping initiative.

The program, now known as LinkWISCONSIN, is not intended to replace

or compete with other broadband efforts in our state, but rather to identify

and work with new and existing projects that share a common goal of better

broadband deployment and adoption in every region of Wisconsin. Its goals

are to collect data and map Wisconsin’s broadband assets, as well as use a

data-driven approach to develop a statewide plan and more locally driven

regional plans.

The fundamental objective of the state broadband maps is to organize and

conduct a comprehensive inventory of service across Wisconsin. This core

information helps focus policymakers, community leaders, service providers


Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle designated

the Public Service Commission

of Wisconsin (PSCW) as the Wisconsin

entity eligible to apply for and receive a

federal mapping grant under the National Telecommunications

and Information Administration’s

(NTIA) State Broadband Data and Development

Grant Program (SBDD). This program is

for broadband mapping and planning work in the

state of Wisconsin.

In August 2009, PSCW submitted a grant application

to NTIA seeking funding for broadband

mapping activities for five years. This was later

modified per NTIA request to address only the

first two years of this program.

In November 2009, NTIA announced they

had awarded approximately $1.7 M for broadband

mapping and planning in Wisconsin.

PSCW contracted with the LinkAMERICA Alliance

to assist the state with the mapping and

planning activities. PSCW and LinkAMERICA will

work together to conduct broadband mapping

and to develop a long-term, sustainable plan for

increasing access to, and use of, broadband.

In summer 2010, NTIA announced they

would accept updated grant applications from

states to fund mapping and planning efforts for

three additional years. An application was submitted

for Wisconsin’s continued SBDD efforts

on July 1, 2010, and the state was awarded an

additional $2.82 M to fund LinkWISCONSIN’s

broadband data development and capacity building

programs for years 3-5.

26 u January 2013



and others on the central issue at

hand. LinkWISCONSIN’s mapping

initiative has resulted in the creation

of an interactive online mapping tool

that depicts availability of broadband

by type of technology and the different

advertised speeds.

On the planning side, efforts are

directed towards sustainable capacitybuilding.

One of the first steps in this

process was to divide the state into nine

regions (see Wisconsin regions on the

map to the right), and local teams were

established in each. Working with the

continues on page 33

Glossary of Terms

Northern Regional Broadband Networks Forum, Excerpted from http://bit.ly/broadband_glossary

27 u January 2013


Coverage Map

Private broadband

companies have

provided data on

their coverage areas

which have been

mapped. This map is

an excellent starting

point for consumers

and businesses

that are interested

in learning more

about the providers

serving their area.

The maps overstate

coverage, but there

is also the ability to

correct the data that

is provided on the

maps. See: http://



Middle Mile Segment of a telecommunications network

which connects a network operator’s core network to the

local network plant. Local telecom providers often purchase

middle mile services from larger telecom companies.

National Broadband Plan The current plan, set by the

Federal Communications Commission (FCC), establishes a

minimum standard of 4 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload for

residential broadband and a goal of having 100 million homes

with access to affordable actual download speeds of 50 Mbps

by 2015, and an increase to 100 Mbps by 2020. See: http://


POP Point of Presence. The point at which local Internet

Service Providers connect to regional and national networks.

Distance to the POP can influence service availability and pricing.

R&E Network Research and Education Network

Speed Test Online tests to determine a customer’s actual

internet speed. There are several online speed tests that can

be used including the one offered by Link Wisconsin: http://


VoIP Voice over Internet

Protocol. Technology

that enables

broadband users to

send and receive telephone

calls over the


WiFi Wireless Fidelity.

WiFi is used to create

wireless networks

which use radio transmissions

over short

distances to create

connections between

devices without wires

or cables.

WiMax A mobile

wireless technology

with significantly

greater range than


January 2013 u 27

Broadband &



–UW-Extension Center for Community Technology Solutions

Historically communities

developed along important

transportation corridors:

waterways, stage coach routes, rail,

roads, highways and airports. Other

important infrastructure like mills

and electrical systems soon followed.

Why? Access to markets.

Communities today need to

determine the location of their nearest

on-ramp to the world-market—via the

Internet. How many lanes does that ramp have and what is the speed limit?

Not long ago, residents in Richland County were celebrating the installation

of the first Rural Electrification Administration (REA) electrical pole in

Wisconsin. The residents understood the significance of this important

infrastructure and its impact on quality of life and the growth of their local


Today’s local leaders and economic development professionals are taking

the time to learn more about the significance of broadband and why this is

essential infrastructure for their communities. In many ways, it is as important

as the advancement of electricity was in the 1930’s. Successful communities

will be those that bring this essential infrastructure to their community.

Festivus for the Rest of Us…

a celebration based on a pole?

“On the second day of May, 1936, a telegram from Washington announced the first allotment of REA [Rural

Electrification Administration] money to Wisconsin. The Richland Cooperative Electric Association was one of two

recipients…. A three-day celebration was staged in Richland Center, Sunday, September 7, being the momentous

day. Thousands of people gathered from near and far to witness the setting of the first REA pole in this state.”

[WI Rural Electric Cooperative Association publication]

28 u January 2013

what can broadband allow YOU to do?

Broadband is what allows the nation’s largest catalogue and online seller of pet supplies to be

located in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. To view a short video case study of Drs. Foster & Smith,

please see: http://bit.ly/Ecommerce_broadband.

Broadband is what allows small companies like My Tires in Platteville, Wisconsin to improve their

business to business transactions and better serve customers. See: http://bit.ly/MyTires.

Broadband is what allows Wisconsin Cheese makers to sell their products to global markets. See:


Successful communities understand

that the demand for bandwidth and

faster Internet connectivity will only

increase over time.

The success of business often

depends on the ability to tap into

the huge potential of high speed

broadband connectivity. Successful

communities will be those that

bring this essential broadband

infrastructure to their community.

Increasingly, elected officials want to

know more about the opportunities

and barriers to achieving a high level

of connectivity.

According to the International

Economic Development Council’s

2012 survey on broadband:

• Seventy-four percent of economic

development professionals

thought that fiber-based

broadband would have a direct or

indirect impact on their ability to

attract businesses (60% also felt

that wireless broadband would

have a direct or indirect impact

on their ability to attract businesses).

• Forty-seven percent of economic developers indicate that money spent

for broadband could produce a greater return by helping individuals

improve job and professional skills. Another 25% see transitioning people

from dying industries to 21st century job skills as the broadband potential

we should be cultivating. Seventeen percent of economic development

professionals say using broadband to help people get a better education

is the greater value of broadband for personal economic development.

q While the national broadband plan now defines a connection of 4

Mbps download/1 Mbps upload as being “broadband,” fewer than

10% of the economic development professionals believe 4 Mbps is

sufficient for advancing their local economies.

q Seventy-six percent of economic development professionals thought

a minimum of 100 Mbps or greater was needed to effectively attract

new businesses.

q Eighteen percent of respondents have insufficient speeds to produce

economic outcomes listed and have given up hope for a solution.

q Thirteen percent do not have enough speed to get the job done, but

are actively trying to find or create a solution.

For a copy of the complete report on the survey, see: http://www.


While everyone is focused on the economy and the need to increase

employment, incomes, and tax base, the benefits of high speed Internet

29 u January 2013

go beyond just creating employment and increasing

incomes. In 2010, a study titled, “The Economic Impact

of Digital Exclusion,” conservatively estimated the

impact of not having everyone well connected is costing

this country over $55 billion per year. This estimate was

based on the likely levels of impact in 11 categories of

economic impact ranging from increased health care

costs to energy conservation. Given our share of the

population and economy, the digital divide is likely

costing Wisconsin over $1 billion per year.

Most elected officials agree that it is time to transform

government by consolidating service delivery and doing

it more efficiently to save taxpayer dollars. Broadband is

one technology that allows for cost savings, increased

government cooperation, and an improvement in

government services. The best case example of that

being applied in Wisconsin can be found in the Chippewa


In a recent study commissioned by the Local

Government Institute of Wisconsin (A Roadmap for

Government Transformation), six factors were identified

that clearly contribute to the success of efforts to

transform the delivery of public services within an area,


q Trust between leaders

q Shared perception of need

q Clear fiscal benefit

q Improved service quality

q Collaborative leadership

q Community support

These principles are likely critical to the success

of developing any collaborative community-based

broadband solution. For a copy of the complete report:


Community leaders are increasingly recognizing the

need to improve the level of Internet connectivity within

the state. It takes thoughtful collaboration between

elected officials, economic development professionals,

broadband providers, residents and businesses to

determine the appropriate strategy for most elected


The Chippewa Internet Working Consortium (CINC)

Community institutions in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, pooled their resources to

build a high-speed broadband network. The high-speed connections create opportunities to share

applications and open up possibilities for new uses of technology. For a short video case study

describing this collaborative model. Please see: http://bit.ly/CINC_broadband

wisconsin Economic development association

The Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) has identified Telecommunications

Infrastructure: Broadband in their 2013-14 Legislative Agenda (http://www.weda.org/media/cushycms/

LegislativeIssues_31_1130160817.pdf )

Specifically, “WEDA has consistently advocated for policy initiatives that foster broadband deployment,

particularly for small businesses located in non-urbanized corridors, and will continue to encourage widespread

broadband development throughout the state to promote an “infrastructure-ready environment for business.”

30 u January 2013

Funding Streams FOR


There are several funding streams for

multiple broadband expansion projects

happening across Wisconsin. These

funding streams involve multiple organizations,

including private telecommunications companies

to telecom cooperatives. Below is a sample of

some of the largest grants and loans awarded to

Wisconsin telecommunications businesses since

2010. For a complete list and details, see: http://


USDA Rural Development

Community Connect


q Marquette-Adams Telephone

Cooperative, Inc.

o $19,781,000 loan funds

o System wide fiber-tothe-premises

(FTTP) network,

including over 370

miles of new or modified

buried fiber.

o Projected benefit: enhanced

broadband service

to all subscribers.

q Vernon Telephone Cooperative,


o $24 million loan

o Build a FTTP system in

areas outside the town,

along with system improvements

in several

area exchanges.

USDA RUS (Rural Utilities


q Baldwin Telecom, Inc.

o $16,716,000

o Broadband infrastructure

RUS Round Two BIP

(Broadband Investment


Each of these projects is designed

to bring broadband service to

unserved establishments in their





Baldwin Telecom, Inc.

o $9.1 million/$120,000

additional outside capital

o 109 mile fiber-to-thehome

infrastructure in

the town of Troy, Wisconsin.

o Projected benefit: More

than 3,600 people, 30

local businesses and 2

community institutions.

Midway Telephone Company

o $4.7 million grant/$1.6

million additional outside


o High-speed DSL broadband


o Projected benefit: approximately


people, 50 businesses,

and 20 other community


Chequamegon Communications

Cooperative Inc.

o Award of $31.1 million

o Fiber-to-the-Home


o Projected benefit: More

than 10,400 people, 959

local businesses and 35

community institutions

stand to benefit from this

improved service.

Round 2 BTOP and BIP


q Reedsburg Utility Commission,


o $5.2 million grant/$2.3

million additional outside


o Extend existing municipal

FTTP network to surrounding

rural areas.

o Projected benefit: 6,000

people, along with 144

businesses and 12 community


q Marquette-Adams Telephone

Cooperative, Inc.:

o $20 million grant/loan


o Extend fiber optic service

from existing service area

to surrounding unserved

rural areas.

o Projected benefit: 11,000

people, 144 businesses

and 12 community institutions.

31 u January 2013

January 2013 u 31

The impact of NOT having everyone well

connected is costing this country over $55 billion

per year ... the digital divide is likely costing

Wisconsin over $1 billion per year.

the role of


–Bailey Quam, Cooperative Extension Communications and Marketing Assistant

In the 1930’s Cooperative Extension played a

vital role in helping rural communities receive

electricity. Now, more than 60 years later,

Cooperative Extension is doing the same with


The 1935 Rural Electrical Administration (REA)

legislation provided farm cooperatives with lowinterest

loans as a way to fund power plants and

string power lines.

In the movement to electrify Wisconsin,

Cooperative Extension agents worked to educate

rural families about electricity and its benefits.

Today, Cooperative Extension helps people discover

advantages of the internet and broadband.

Through educational programs in five Wisconsin

communities, people learn computer uses and

broadband connection benefits. Educational

programs offered in Chippewa Valley, Menominee

County, Platteville, Superior and Wausau are held

in community centers, health care facilities and

senior centers. “People have a fear of technology

but in these classes we show them there is nothing

to be scared about,” says Jill Hietpas, community

development and broadband educator in Eau Claire


Hietpas teaches classes in Chippewa, Dunn and

Eau Claire counties, going where she is needed with

her laptops and iPads. After attending her classes,

Hieptas says people are able to connect via computer

through email and Facebook with friends and family

who live long distances away. Many veterans consult

Heitpas for help ordering prescriptions online, as

that is the only way they can get their medications.

As time and technology change, the need to

educate people remains. Cooperative Extension, a

division of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, is

committed to making sure all Wisconsin residents

have access to knowledge of a changing world. For

more information, go to http://broadband.uwex.edu/


32 u January 2013



continued from page 27

LinkWISCONSIN’s mapping and planning program has been developed

to work with diverse stakeholders to expedite the availability, adoption

and usage of new technologies.

PSCW, the regional teams assessed current availability,

adoption and broadband use and developed targeted

strategies in their regional plans to expand adoption and

address their local needs. Going forward, the teams will

continue their efforts to co-ordinate all ongoing work in

their regions and will continue to support the PSCW on

other state-wide efforts with their local knowledge.

On a state-wide level the Public Service Commission

managed a collaborative statewide process to create a

state plan called the Wisconsin Broadband Playbook. The

playbook was developed to address statewide priorities,

including specific policy and institutional reform ideas

(or plays), for which there was broad consensus. These

ideas will not only be the foundation for future state policy

initiatives, but will inform state and local policymakers

whose action and leadership will be necessary in

advancing the state’s broadband initiative.

Additionally, PSCW recently partnered with the

University of Wisconsin Extension (UWEX) on an

important component of capacity-building, which is to

monitor and evaluate progress in broadband availability,

adoption and usage benchmarks across Wisconsin. This

process involves identifying best practices for measuring

outcomes and collecting data regarding regional progress

in order to accurately estimate the social and economic

impact of broadband. UWEX was a natural choice for

this role due to their Wisconsin-specific knowledge that

was acquired due to their extensive outreach efforts in

the state. Their presence in 72 counties and their existing

relationship with several organizations all around the

state is critical in effectively mobilizing these monitoring

and evaluation efforts. The PSCW is also partnering with

UWEX to assist with broadband awareness training for

state and local policymakers. This training effort will

identify technical leaders around the state and will keep

the group up-to-date on the latest broadband technologies,

policies and strategic opportunities through events,

online meetings, webinars, etc.

The growing number of such collaborations between

various stakeholders in the state towards achieving a

common goal of advancing broadband has been very

encouraging. Partnerships that incent private investment

in broadband are critical for planning and understanding

the landscape of the future, and will help identify

beneficial opportunities for all broadband stakeholders

within the state. It not only reduces wasteful duplication

and improves synergies, but it also provides a healthy

environment that speeds innovation and facilitates

private initiative and provision of the technology. Given

the economic and social importance of broadband,

LinkWISCONSIN’s mapping and planning program

has been developed to work with diverse stakeholders

to expedite the availability, adoption and usage of new


33 u January 2013





continued from page 24


Extension (UWEX) has just completed

a two-year digital outreach pilot

project in five communities around

Wisconsin, conducting 22,708 training

hours for 796 activities and reaching

A Federal Reserve study found

that students with a personal

computer and broadband at home

have six to eight percentage point

higher graduation rates than similar

student who do not have home

access to the Internet

The University Wisconsin-

over 3 million people, including

advertising reach. UWEX new

Center for Community Technology

Solutions will extend this effort

to help communities develop the

internet access they need while

developing critical outreach and

education efforts to connect all their

residents and businesses to critical

services and the global economy.

Source: http://transition.fcc.gov/



34 u January 2013

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