Government proposals to improve rural broadband access in Wisconsin and around the country have been a dismal failure. Corruption is rife within these grant programs and the documented problems are myriad. Telecoms frequently choose well-populated and politically advantageous areas over the sparsely populated, under/unserved areas the programs are intended to help. Grant recipients are often unable to provide information in response to subpoenas and open records requests to verify the status of network build-outs, sub-par internet speeds provided to paying customers, and where the taxpayer dollars went if they weren’t used to fund grant program requirements.
This is a huge problem for Wisconsin taxpayers. Not only do Wisconsinites not have the broadband access promised by politicians in Washington and here at home, our money has been squandered and misused to help line the pockets of politically connected companies, lobbyists and their shareholders.
Wisconsin could have been further down the road of solving this problem years ago, thanks in part to innovative solutions like Microsoft’s Airband technology. This concept leverages blank TV channels—“white spaces”—to transmit internet signals to rural communities. These signals can blanket even the most remote areas. To facilitate implementation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to reserve three unused channels in every market for private companies to provide broadband access. However, due to antiquated regulations, the FCC has failed to do so. It's time to deregulate the broadband industry and open the door to competition from Microsoft and other innovators committed to expanding opportunity to rural America. Free market, limited government, libertarian ideas like using white spaces to bridge America’s digital divide will ultimately benefit everyone.
As your next senator, I'll fight the FCC on this issue and ensure that antiquated bureaucracy doesn't stand in the way of smart solutions.
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