La Crosse County is taking the first step to support Internet infrastructure | Jobs Recent

La Crosse County last week took the first of two steps toward becoming a certified broadband community. The County Board of Supervisors voted to read the ordinance to create a local “Broadband Forward! Community” in the official county record.

Broadband Forward! a statewide effort led by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to promote the development of broadband access in communities across the state. Created in 2015 by Wisconsin Act 278, it is a voluntary program for local governments to sign on to Internet providers that municipalities lower administrative barriers to broadband infrastructure.

The law states that La Crosse County will:

  • Adjust its administrative procedures.
  • Choose a single point of contact for all matters related to broadband network projects.
  • Accept submission of applications electronically.
  • Review and process requests in a timely manner.
  • Charge only reasonable fees for reviewing applications and issuing permits.
  • Setting the right conditions is the only permission.
  • Non-discrimination between telecommunications service providers.

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The county has designated the zoning department as the point of contact for broadband projects, and all requests will be processed in 10 business days or less.

Now that the ordinance has been read into the record – as required by state law – the public can submit comments, questions or address concerns about the ordinance to the board. The ordinance will be read and voted on again at the next county board meeting in January. There will also be time for the public to comment on this issue at that meeting.

Other barriers to broadband investment include the length of time it takes to process permit applications or corporate discrimination. With Broadband Ahead! Certification, the country is trying to eliminate these administrative roadblocks so that Internet service providers have a more organized process of providing services.

Charlotte Peters, a community development teacher in La Crosse County as part of the UW-Madison Extension, said these roadblocks don’t really exist in La Crosse County. The planning department, which handles permit applications, already turns applications around in 10 days or less.

“It is important to understand that this is the first basic step to help the board look at broadband,” said Peters.

“Then what comes out of this is more interest and more education on the board about what programs are in place, what the needs are, what the state’s goals are, what the state’s community outreach goals are,” Peters continued, “so (the board) can make good decisions going forward about and how the region is dealing with broadband.”

From now on, being Broadband Forward! The community is a signal to internet service providers that the region wants and is ready to accept proposals and permits for broadband infrastructure.

In the future, broadband certification may become a requirement for broadband infrastructure grants or programs as those become more competitive nationally and internationally.

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