March 20, 2018
Contact: Zachary Cikanek
CONNECT AMERICANS NOW APPLAUDS WISCONSIN’S RURAL BROADBAND LEADERSHIP
As Americans across the country celebrate National Agriculture Day, the Wisconsin Senate takes a critical step toward expanding rural broadband access.
Madison, WI – Connect Americans Now (CAN) today applauded the Wisconsin Senate’s passage of Joint Resolution 96, which called on federal regulators to reserve “at least three channels below 700 MHz on an unlicensed basis in every market in the country.” Connect Americans Now joined members of the Wisconsin Legislature to introduce the resolution in early January.
The resolution supporting TV white space technology comes on National Agriculture Day, a celebration in support of the farmers and ranchers who put food on our tables. Wisconsin is home to more than 69,000 farms, but many lack a broadband connection that enables potentially transformative precision agriculture tools that help cut costs, conserve resources, save time and increase yields.
The resolution’s passage keeps Wisconsin at the forefront of TV white space technology. Governor Walker has been an outspoken advocate, raising the issue during an infrastructure meeting at the White House, his State of the State address and issuing a press release supporting TV white space technology.
In February, Microsoft – a founding member of CAN – announced a partnership with Packerland Broadband to use TV white space technology to deliver broadband to rural communities throughout the northern part of the state. The partnership is expected to connect 82,000 people in Michigan and Wisconsin within the next four years.
“Forty-three percent of rural Wisconsinites lack broadband access,” CAN Executive Director Richard T. Cullen said. “Today’s action is yet another signal that Wisconsin leaders are committed to supporting innovative technologies that will expand access throughout the state. We look forward to working with our CAN partners and leaders throughout the state to utilize TV white space technology to bridge Wisconsin’s digital divide.”
Fourteen Wisconsin-based groups have already joined the fast-growing CAN coalition, including the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the Wisconsin Technology Council, the Wisconsin Economic Development Association, the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe.
To provide affordable and reliable service in rural communities, CAN seeks to deploy a combination of “wired” and “wireless” technologies, including fiber-based, satellite, and wireless technologies, leveraging a range of frequencies including TV white spaces. To make this plan a reality, CAN is urging the FCC to ensure that three channels below 700 MHz are available for wireless use on an unlicensed basis in every market in the country, with additional TV white spaces in smaller markets and rural areas.
“We hear from constituents every week asking us when broadband will finally reach their doors,” State Representative Mary Felzkowski said in a press release announcing the resolution. “It is often a frustrating process for them and for us because we cannot always do something to help. With this joint resolution, we continue to prioritize broadband connectivity by pursuing yet another option that may have the ability to deliver internet faster and further than current technology allows.”
“Broadband expansion in rural southwest Wisconsin is one of my top priorities,” State Senator Howard Marklein said in a press release announcing the resolution. “I am encouraged by the potential of this technology and I want to do everything I can to remove obstacles for possible solutions. When we passed the state budget, we fine-tuned the grant program so that new technology would be eligible for state support. The white space opportunity demonstrates exactly why we must be nimble and willing to try new technology to meet the needs of rural families.”
Connect Americans Now is a group of concerned citizens, local organizations, rural advocates and leading innovators committed to eliminating the digital divide that is holding back rural America. Our goal is to bring rural Americans who currently lack connectivity safe and affordable broadband access by 2022 so they can take advantage of the economic and educational opportunities that exist in other communities.