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State task force to focus on expanding broadband internet access

File photo
Gov. Tony Evers

MADISON (WKOW) -- Gov. Tony Evers today issued an executive order creating a task force to provide guidance on expanding high-speed internet access.

Executive Order #80 establishes a Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access, according to a press release from Evers' office.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that access to high-speed broadband is a necessity, not a luxury, and folks across our state have had to adapt—from kids and educators shifting to virtual classrooms, workers having to work from home, and even folks using telemedicine to visit with their doctor," Evers said.

The group will develop strategies for providing high-speed internet to every residence, business, and institution in the state. The press release also said the task force would try to ensure inclusivity and affordability of the internet access it helps plan.

The broadband task force will advise the governor's office and state Legislature.

In justifying the need for a task force on the issue, the governor's office cited a Federal Communications Commission report that said 7.1 percent of Wisconsin residents lack access to even one broadband service. The national average is 5.6 percent, according to the governor's office summation of the report.

Broadband is commonly defined as internet access with at least 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps on uploads.

Over 1 in 4 Wisconsin residents in rural areas lack broadband access the governor's office said of the FCC report.

The task force members are:

  • Brittany Beyer, Executive Director, Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation
  • Marta Bechtol, Executive Director, Educational Communications Board
  • Tom Boron, IT Director, Washburn County
  • Chad Young, CEO/General Manager, Norvado
  • Jean Pauk, Government Affairs Manager, TDS Telecommunications
  • Celeste Flynn, Director of Government Affairs, Charter Communications
  • Kurt Kiefer, Assistant State Superintendent, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
  • Theron Rutyna, IT Director, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Brett Schuppner, General Manager, Reedsburg Utility Commission
  • Jose Martinez, Vice President, UMOS
  • Chris Meyer, Director of Virtual Care and Telehealth, Marshfield Clinic Health System
  • Scott VanderSanden, President – AT&T Plains States, AT&T
  • Chris Her-Xiong, Executive Director/Principal, Hmong American Peace Academy
  • Emily Dittmar, Legislative Director, Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association
  • Andrew Faust, Senior GIS Analyst, North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
  • Robert Earl Baker III, Founder, RenderTech
  • Lori Collins, President/CEO, SonicNet Inc.
  • Gail Huycke, Community Development Specialist, UW-Extension Center for Community and Economic Development
  • Shannon Clark, CEO & General Manager, Richland Electric Cooperative
  • Salvador L. Carranza, Founder, Latino Education Council of Dane County
  • State Representative Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield)
  • State Representative Jeffrey Mursau (R-Crivitz)
  • State Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green)
  • State Senator Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset)

JT Cestkowski

Social Media Content Producer/Desk Editor

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