Grow Broadband Accessibility

Help provide high-speed internet across the state

Broadband internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. The term “broadband” is used to describe high-speed internet access through various technology platforms such as cable, telephone wires and wireless technologies. It gives users the ability to send and receive data at volumes and speeds much greater than “dial-up” internet access provided by traditional telephone lines.

While availability and reliability of broadband continues to improve, Wisconsin is significantly behind other states when it comes to accessibility, speed and cost. The challenges Wisconsin faces with broadband contributes to decreased property values and less desirable homebuying options across our great state.

Ranked #30 in the U.S. for broadband availability, pricing, and average download speeds

According to a national consumer broadband advocacy group (www.broadband.now), Wisconsin ranks as follows:

  • Approximately 20% of Wisconsin is not covered by broadband.
  • Wisconsin currently is 30th in the country for broadband availability, pricing and average download speeds.
  • Compared to other Midwest states, Wisconsin is second to last, far behind Illinois (#6), Michigan (#19), Minnesota (#20), Indiana (#21) and Ohio (#24). Iowa (#45) is the only Midwest state with greater broadband challenges than Wisconsin.
To compete for economic development opportunities, grow our workforce, increase property values and expand our tax base, Wisconsin must make a significant investment in broadband. From healthcare and education to agriculture and business, every aspect of our society will continue to rely heavily on the use of broadband to perform essential functions.

Additionally, the increased demands of working remotely and distance learning make it essential for potential home buyers to live where affordable, high-speed internet is available.

According to a recent poll, two-thirds of Wisconsinites said having broadband internet is either a top priority or the most important priority in buying a home.

2/3 of Wisconsinites agree: broadband internet is a top priority

About half of the survey participants said they would pay more for a home with broadband internet. Participants from the survey ultimately agree that there is a need for high-speed internet across Wisconsin, and that state government should prioritize bringing high-speed internet service to both rural and underserved areas and provide subsidies so lower income families can afford broadband service.

The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association supports a comprehensive statewide plan to accelerate the availability of broadband access, increase data speeds and lower broadband costs. Specifically, the WRA supports the following broadband access principles:

  • Everyone in Wisconsin should have access to affordable, high-speed broadband, and it should be available throughout the state by 2025.
  • A variety of technologies should be utilized to encourage affordable, high-quality broadband coverage to all parts of Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin’s investment in broadband must be ongoing, recognizing the continuous change in technology and the increasing demand for faster, more reliable internet.

The Wisconsin Broadband Plan, established in 2019, looks to deliver and ensure affordable access to broadband service to all Wisconsinites by Jan. 1, 2025. The plan is based on Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed investments in broadband which were outlined in his 2019-2021 biennial budget. Read more about the Wisconsin Broadband Plan here.

Gov. Evers’ 2021-2023 state budget proposes a $200 million investment in broadband expansion. This is five times the amount invested in the 2013, 2015 and 2017 budgets combined.

It is clear there is consensus among Wisconsin citizens and government alike that access and affordability to broadband internet is crucial to prioritize. The WRA backs initiatives like the Wisconsin Broadband Plan that put necessary initiatives into action.

$28.4M

Awarded by PSC

Additional Resources

PSC awards $28.4 million to expand high-speed internet in 39 counties

Read more on the Wisconsin State Journal