Friday, October 22, 2010

Action needed to secure broadband fiber expansion to public & school libraries

To help ensure that public and school libraries get the broadband fiber expansion they need, please contact U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl, along with your U.S. Representative!  (Contact information is available via WLA's CapWiz account.) Background information on this issue:

 --  In August 2009 the State of Wisconsin submitted a ARRA broadband grant (ID 174) to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  The grant proposed to bring fiber broadband connectivity to 467 schools and libraries on the state’s BadgerNet network.  Many of these sites are in small, rural communities but there is at least one site getting fiber in every county in the state.

--  In February NTIA awarded the grant for $22.9 million.  (See Governor Doyle’s press release announcing the award.)

--  The grant will allow our schools and libraries to get more than a  five-fold increase in their Internet bandwidth at NO additional cost. 

--  The grant was submitted and approved based on the State extending its contract with AT&T and other telecommunication providers who provide the BadgerNet circuits.  But now NTIA is requiring additional conditions be placed on the telecommunication providers, including issues related to long-term use of the fiber.

--  From a long-term perspective, the NTIA should focus on getting the State to ensure that it will continue to offer broadband service to our schools and libraries, as is now required under state law.  And the best way to do this is for NTIA to get a reaffirmation from the State based on the network business model (i.e., BadgerNet contract extension) that was in the grant. 

--  It has now been over eight months since the grant was awarded and no schools or libraries have received any fiber.  The delay in getting this grant approved further delays the bandwidth our schools and libraries desperately need and it further delays getting stimulus funding spent to help the overall economic recovery.  

Thank you for taking this action to secure expanded broadband for 467 Wisconsin schools and libraries!

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