New Governor’s task force to focus on expanding internet access and speeds across Wisconsin.

The Governor has made expanding broadband access one of his priorities for economic development and COVID-19 management. Graphic: Sam Buisman

Author: Sam Buisman

Governor Tony Evers launches a task force focusing on expanding high-speed internet access to Wisconsinites. 

Evers announced via a Tuesday press release the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access, which will advise Evers and the state legislature on actions to increase broadband internet access to Wisconsin citizens and businesses. The Evers Administration has long prioritized making internet access more accessible and affordable to Wisconsinites, arguing that it is key to expand the state’s economy and achieve other community-based goals. 

In the press release, Evers also presented expanding broadband as key to the state’s COVID-19 recovery.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that access to high-speed broadband is a necessity, not a luxury,” wrote Evers, “and folks across our state have had to adapt—from kids and educators shifting to virtual classrooms, workers having to work from home, and even folks using telemedicine to visit with their doctor.” 

The 24-member task force includes industry leaders in telecommunications along with state legislators from both houses and both parties. 

According to consumer watchdog group Broadbandnow, Wisconsin ranks 30th for broadband access out of the nation’s 50 states, with 173,000 Wisconsinites living in areas not covered by a single internet provider and 66% of Wisconsinites unable to access a low-cost plan of $60 or less per month. 

Such shortcomings have been exacerbated as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schooling, employment and socializing in Wisconsin almost completely online. 

As of press time, the Office of the Governor has not unveiled the task force’s first meeting date but said that it would be sometime later in the summer.