Residents can help bring broadband to Northwoods
Speed test will help map out where need is greatest
For the Star Journal
RHINELANDER – Access to high-speed internet, or broadband, has long been considered a deterrent for improved economic health and growth throughout the state. The same is true for the Northwoods, where homes and businesses may have no broadband access or internet service speeds that fall below FCC standards.
Since 2015, the FCC has maintained that minimum broadband speed should be 25 Mbps for downloading files and 3 Mbps for uploading.
State and federal grants are available to bring broadband to underserved areas around the state, but in order to tap into those grants the state must identify those areas of greatest need.
To help ensure broadband access, Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation and other statewide partners are working to roll out a simple internet speed test, made possible by a grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Grow North and its local partners are asking residents and businesses to take the test to help establish where support is needed.
“The Northwoods has a unique set of barriers concerning broadband access,” said Brittany Beyer, executive director of Grow North and chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. “This speed test map becomes an excellent tool for our local broadband committees to use. It offers the most granular information about access currently available, and there is a suite of planning tools local committees can access as they prepare for broadband buildout. Every test gets us closer to a full picture of broadband needs.”
“Access to broadband will help Wisconsin attract companies and workers, and broadband is critical for those working or doing schoolwork from home or trying to access services online,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC Secretary and CEO. “But we can’t do this without the help of Wisconsinites statewide. We need as many of us as possible to take a very easy internet speed test.”
The test will help determine where internet speeds are below FCC standards and where the state needs to focus on building the broadband infrastructure.
To take the test, residents and businesses should visit https://expressoptimizer.net/public/, from their home or work location, by May 8, 2022. The test is quick and Beyer said personal information is always protected and never shared.
Even those residents without internet access can help by logging onto the site from a friend’s home or the local library. Click on “Enter an address with No Available Service” to complete the survey.