31 May Roll out the broadband
Madison, Wis. – The United States may rank a lowly 16th in broadband deployment worldwide, but the state of Wisconsin has decided to be in the forefront.
Following the passage of Senate Bill 483, also known as the Broadband Deployment Act, the state aims to extend what some have called the “21st Century infrastructure” to rural and other underserved areas. Gov. Jim Doyle signed has signed the bill into law, providing tax incentives to qualified companies who expand broadband Internet services to areas of the state where it is most needed.
A key sponsor was State Senator Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, who characterized broadband as vitally important for positive economic growth. “The Broadband Deployment Act is a step in the right direction for our state, and it makes a statement to the business community that Wisconsin is serious about economic growth,” he said.
Joining Kanavas in moving the legislation forward were State Senator Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, and State Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Ashwaubenon.
To foster broadband penetration, the act provides $7.5 million in a combination of tax credits and exemptions for companies that expand in areas of the state where there are one or fewer broadband service providers. Companies that want to take advantage of the tax incentives will apply to the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and show that they are going to expand broadband services to the targeted areas.
Kanavas said there are pockets of the state that are in dire need of economic development, and many do not have a viable broadband Internet infrastructure in place to serve businesses. If the state intends to follow through on its commitment to attract and retain businesses, broadband service and applications will have to be part of the equation, he said.
Paul La Schiazza, president of AT&T Wisconsin, said the law would encourage economic development and job growth by improving access to the Internet and helping more Wisconsin residents take advantage of educational opportunities.
In addition to incentives for broadband deployment, the Doyle Administration has provided technical assistance to localities that wish to attract wireless or other broadband services, and has extended broadband service to municipal facilities through the BadgerNet II. This summer, BadgerNet II is scheduled to go online at state colleges and technical schools.
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