28 Oct Broadband Deployment & Adoption in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s economy prospered greatly during the agricultural and industrial revolutions. And today we stand on the precipice of another turning point for Wisconsin’s economy; the innovation revolution. If we harness our resources correctly, Wisconsin will also be a leader in the coming innovation economy.
President George W. Bush has made broadband a national priority, and we at the state and local government levels must also make broadband deployment and adoption a priority for the future of our state. The key is to foster competition in the broadband industry, not regulate it. We must realize that excess and onerous government regulation stifles innovation.
Broadband holds incredible promise and the potential to be the next big driver of Wisconsin’s economy. Let’s face it: for Wisconsin companies to be successful in a knowledge-based, global economy, they must have access to fast, high-speed connectivity. The competition from other states and other countries is far too great for Wisconsin not to act now on broadband deployment.
Currently, information technology (IT) accounts for 7% of our nation’s economy, yet IT produces nearly 28% of our nations Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That says something about the value and productivity of the IT industry. It has been estimated that a ubiquitous broadband infrastructure would account for an increase in the nation’s GDP up to $500 million annually.
Former Michigan Governor Engler has stated that jump-starting Michigan’s high-speed Internet access throughout the state would help create an estimated 500,000 jobs in Michigan alone. Those numbers are staggering, and one has to wonder what a statewide competitive high-speed broadband infrastructure could do for Wisconsin. Or one could argue, that if we do nothing to promote high-speed connectivity, how many jobs could we potentially lose?
Since my first day in the Wisconsin Legislature, I have worked to develop solutions for current generation and next generation high-speed data communications (broadband) rollout. I recently introduced the Broadband Deployment Act of 2003 to create a reliable regulatory framework for Broadband Deployment.
This legislation will:
Create a level playing field for all broadband providers to roll out current technologies and develop the next wave or “next generation” technologies that will deliver communication speeds in excess of 200 megabits per second (mbps) by the year 2010;
Eliminate the current uncertain regulatory climate, which has had a detrimental impact in broadband deployment, competition and adoption;
Allow the private sector to work to develop broadband solutions for current generation and next generation high-speed data communications (broadband) deployment;
Create a similar regulatory environment for broadband deployment to that currently enjoyed by the cellular telephone industry. This environment has allowed cellular technology to be deployed statewide, giving consumers numerous choices of providers, pricing and service plans as well as telephones and features.
In the absence of a coherent federal broadband policy it is imperative for states like Wisconsin, which lag behind the rest of the nation in broadband deployment and adoption, to step up and create regulatory certainty within its borders.
We must foster policies to attract more high-speed broadband providers to Wisconsin to make infrastructure investments that will create the competitive environment necessary to increase broadband adoption rates among Wisconsin’s business and home users.
Ted Kanavas, elected to the state Senate in 2001, represents the 33rd Senate District in the Wisconsin Legislature. Senator Kanavas serves as Co-Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Job Creation and as a member of the state’s Joint Finance Committee. The 33rd Senate District is made up of parts of Waukesha and Washington Counties.