Dec 18 2015

Wisconsin Aims to Put Gigabit Internet on the Map — But Leaves Out Milwaukee

The state is mapping out the business parks that offer ultrafast broadband service, but the southeastern area is not being recognized.

The Wisconsin state government wants to put the Badger State’s gigabit Internet speeds on the map. There’s just one problem: The map it’s using to highlight business parks that offer high-speed Internet service is incomplete.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported, in mid-April the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) created a tool to attract businesses to the state: a map of business parks — areas in which many office buildings are grouped together — that support broadband speeds of 1 gigabit per second or more. However, business parks in the Milwaukee area are being left off the map even though they meet the requirements to be on it.

Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, jokingly told the Journal Sentinel that an outsider might conclude that the southeastern part of the state is a “giant forest.”

Why the glaring omission? The state government says it is still working to integrate information with providers across the state.

Missing Milwaukee — and Others Parts of the State

The current map does not include business parks in the greater Milwaukee area, the Journal Sentinel reported, including the Milwaukee County Research Park in Wauwatosa, OakView Business Park in Oak Creek, LakeView Corporate Park in Pleasant Prairie or GrandView Business Park in Racine County.

Indeed, a large portion of southeast Wisconsin is not on WEDC map even though Internet service providers offer gigabit service in business parks in that part of the state, the Journal Sentinel reported.

"Our goal is for the map to identify all Wisconsin business parks that have capacity for gigabit service," WEDC spokesman Steven Michels told the Journal Sentinel. "We have not yet reached agreements or integrated data with all of the providers in the state, but we are diligently working to bring them on board."

"Multiple additional sites will be uploaded in the coming months," he added.

Connecticut’s Impressive Push to Gigabit Glory

Although Wisconsin is mapping its gigabit business parks, Connecticut has been racing to prove that it is the nation’s first “gigabit state.” Officials in 46 towns in the state have been collaborating with companies to deploy gigabit Internet service, StateTech reported in April.

The towns, which make up about a quarter of the state’s 169 municipalities, have been considering requests for proposal to deliver ultrafast broadband service to consumers, businesses and schools at lower costs.

In July Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law a bill that requires the Office of Consumer Counsel to set up an Office of Broadband Advocacy “to facilitate the availability of broadband access and the adoption of ultra-high-speed gigabit-capable broadband networks.”

The Hartford Courant reported in August that the state and municipalities are considering financing agreements to build a fiber optic network that would provide 1 gigabyte Internet service to every household in the state. A proposal from MacQuarie Capital to finance the infrastructure, including fiber-optic cables, has gained favor, the report said. MacQuarie’s proposal would create “ ‘a public-private partnership’ in which MacQuarie provides the funding to build the gigabit infrastructure, and cities and towns pay MacQuarie back over 30 years, rather than the usual municipal bond period of 15 or 20 years.”

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