Monday, June 06, 2011

End of WiscNet? Joint Finance Eliminates UW-Madison WiscNet Office in DoIT

TAKE ACTION: WLA's Legislative Alert
In addition to requiring the return of federal broadband funds, the Omnibus University of Wisconsin System motion passed Friday (Motion 489) by the state legislature's Joint Committee on Finance included the following provision:
"Specify that WiscNet could no longer be a department or office within the UW-Madison Division of Information Technology beginning on July 1, 2012, and delete $1,400,000 PR from the UW System related to WiscNet in 2012-13. Require the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a program audit and a financial audit of the Board of Regents' use of telecommunication services and relationship with WiscNet."

The note in the motion indicates under current law, the Board of Regents is prohibited from providing telecommunication services that are available from a private telecommunications carrier to the general public or any other public or private entity. Currently, WiscNet services more than 450 public and private research, education and government organizations. According to Bob Bocher, Division for Libraries consultant and a WiscNet board member, WiscNet provides about 95% of libraries and about 80% of school districts with Internet access. The cost of receiving this service through private vendor is estimated to be two to three times higher than through WiscNet. See the WiscNet website for more information.

WLA will be developing a legislative alert to be issued later today or early tomorrow. Please stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How ironic. Telephone companies weren't even on the playing field in the early 90's, so why do we suddenly need to level the playing field when it comes to educational access to the Internet.

I learned to use libraries effectively at the UW, and how to use a text based Internet to extend my research during the early 90's. WiscNet made the Internet searches possible, and provided home dial-up access for a while - until browsers were introduced and the private sector finally caught on.

Years after WiscNet was around FullFeed and Berbee started offering web access, which was long before telephone companies did. The phone companies didn't even know what the Internet was, or how to use it, or what to do with it. Until recently most hadn't even used YouTube, but they were offering Internet services.

WiscNet has grown and connected schools across the state because telco's didn't know what the heck it was, weren't willing to connect the schools, and didn't know how to get past voice and dumb data services like T1

So now WiscNet is attacked for being unfair, and telco's can only compete if there's a level playing field. Come on... these are schools that created a network telo's couldn't. It's too late to call foul.

I don't care if it's tax money or what. I support schools and school libraries and if they built their own when no one else would I say "continue supporting them". The field was level in the early 90's so you should have got on the field back then.