There’s a story over at Wisconsin Watch that reports on the broadband gap in rural Wisconsin communities. Peter Cameron reports Broadband gap leaves rural Wisconsin behind during coronavirus crisis (‘Wisconsin’s dearth of high-speed internet in rural areas makes virtual schooling, remote health care and working from home even more difficult’):
Already, Wisconsin lags behind the national average in broadband coverage. An estimated 43% of Wisconsin’s rural residents lack access to high-speed internet, compared to about 31% of rural residents nationwide, according to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
“We have such a long ways to go,” said state Sen. Jeff Smith, a Democrat who has tried unsuccessfully to increase the state’s investment in broadband. “And now this is going to be one of the things that comes out of this (crisis) when we’re all done: ‘I guess we shouldn’t have dragged our feet for so long, and now we’d better get serious about it.’ ”
Whitewater from most rural communities because there is a university campus in town, and for many of the city’s residents who are students, broadband is simply an ordinary part of life. I’d guess – and only guess – that broadband is less common outside of the campus than some might think.
Some residents likely use mobile phones for internet access. The speed of local mobile connections, the data imitations on mobile plans, and the size of phone screens would mean that those residents’ internet experiences would look nothing that of others who use a dedicated broadband modem. I’m sensitive to this gap – there’s a profound difference between writing while using multiple connections & devices and thinking everyone else has that same experience. They certainly don’t. Whitewater is not a homogeneous community – it’s a small city of different, smaller communities, not all of whom have the same experiences.
There’s a way in which Old Whitewater likes to imagine – pretend, really – that they’re all of the town. They’re not – demographically, they’re not even all of the half of the non-student part of the town.
These years since the Great Recession have left many rural towns with uneven prospects, over-written statements from development men notwithstanding.