Wisconsin ranks 30th when compared to the rest of the states in the US in terms of broadband coverage. Within Wisconsin, none of the counties have less than 45% high-speed internet coverage. The counties with the best coverage are largely concentrated in the southeast corner of the state. Only 13.4% of Wisconsinites have access to fiber-optic service, which is nearly half the national average of 25% of Americans with access to the same. According to user speed tests, Wisconsin’s statewide average download speed is 126.0 Mbps, which is significantly faster than a number of higher-ranking states.
The Digital Divide in Wisconsin
As touched on previously, when comparing coverage statistics throughout Wisconsin’s counties, not all Wisconsinites have equal access to high-speed internet at an affordable price. This inequality creates what is known to the tech world as a ‘digital gap’ between those who have access to the latest telecommunications technology and those who do not.
There are currently 231 internet providers operating within Wisconsin. Even so, 173,000 people in Wisconsin do not have access to a wired internet provider at their place of residence, and 836,000 Wisconsinites only have access to one provider, which severely limits their options when it comes to finding a suitable plan. While 88.4% of the population in Wisconsin has access to a wired broadband connection with speeds of 25 Mbps or faster, 592,000 people do not have access to a connection capable of such speeds.
Further, recent affordability data shows that 44.0% of Wisconsinites have access to a ‘low-priced’ internet plan, meaning a plan that costs $60 or less per month. This is a bit behind the national average of 51.5% of Americans who have access to a low-priced plan.
In terms of coverage, high-speed connection, and affordability, some cities in Wisconsin stand out among the rest. The overall best-connected cities in the state are Racine, Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay, with the first in the list ranking highest.
Internet for Rural Areas in Wisconsin
On the other hand, the cities with the worst internet connection in Wisconsin are Mather, Lebanon, Eureka, and Marquette. No residents in any of these cities have access to a wired broadband internet option.
To further broadband development and data collection throughout Wisconsin, the state has been awarded $4,540,152 in federal grants since 2010. Additional federal grants amounting to $57,969,654 have gone toward the expansion of broadband infrastructure statewide.
The Wisconsin Broadband Office (WBO) operates with the goal of increasing broadband technologies within the state. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin reports that “On September 4, 2019, Governor Tony Evers opened the Broadband Expansion Grant application round for the 2020 Fiscal Year. This grant announcement opens up to $24 million for improving internet access across Wisconsin.”
The information above is taken from a mix of public and private datasets. More about our data here.