Rural broadband access is something that touches on key issues for every family: Jobs, Healthcare, Housing, and Education.
Northern Wisconsin is competing with the rest of the world. We need broadband for all of our small businesses to succeed. And it became even more important during the pandemic, with people trying to get work done and keep their businesses running from home.
Broadband provides critical access to healthcare and telemedicine. It gives rural Wisconsinites much easier access to doctors and specialties that might otherwise be hundreds of miles away. It's simple, easy, and more time-efficient. And, particularly for the elderly and during a pandemic, it takes away the risk of going to a clinic and potentially catching something there.
Broadband in the home keeps families connected and informed, and has a major impact on people's decisions of where they're going to live. And broadband plays a vital role in education. Students in homes with broadband learn more than those whose families don’t have broadband in the home. And of course broadband became an absolute necessity when we had to go to virtual learning this spring.
Wisconsin's existing program for expanding broadband has spent a lot of money and laid a lot of cable in the ground, but we're still way behind rural Minnesota. That's not acceptable. We need more accountability with how these dollars are spent, with a stronger emphasis on actually connecting our homes and businesses.