Two programs work to get Wisconsinites connected to the internet

Local News

EAU CLAIRE, Wis, (WLAX/WEUX) – Two programs are working to help Wisconsinites get connected to the internet.

First News at Nine’s Maria Blough shares how you may be able to benefit.

To bring internet to places like rural Wisconsin, one of the hurdles said Nick Smiar, the Chair of the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors, is infrastructure.

“Eau Claire County is 70% urban and 30% rural and the rural areas are quite scattered,” Smiar said. “The laying of fiber optic cables can be very cost prohibitive, and so this pilot project is quite important.”

The Starlink Pilot project will use Space-X’s Starlink satellites to bring internet to 50 homes and businesses in the southeast part of the county.

Gov. Tony Evers said now more than ever Wisconsinites need access to the internet.

“Reliable high speed internet is the key that opens the door to learning and working from home,” Evers said. “Starting and continuing a business. Learning new skills and attending job training and staying healthy and mentally healthy, behaviorally healthy and physically healthy through telehealth services.”

For some in the state, the problem with getting internet is more about affordability than accessibility.

To address this issue, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Emergency Broadband Program.

Eligible families can get $50 a month to help pay their internet bill.

Mark Scheppke the technology coordinator with the School District of Altoona said programs like this are critical especially when you consider the role technology now has in education.

“It certainly can help bridge the gap between not having internet access at home and being able to afford it,” Scheppke said.

In Eau Claire, Maria Blough, First News at Nine.

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin estimates a half million Wisconsinites are eligible for a $50 subsidy.

The Emergency Broadband Program is temporary. It will continue until the funding for it runs out or for six months after the public health emergency ends.

To find out more about the Emergency Broadband Program, click HERE. To find out which Internet providers are participating in the program, click HERE.

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