Internet Access for all

Kylie Jacobs, Staff Reporter

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Internet for school is just as important as electricity was to citizens in the 1940’s, at least, that’s what State Representative Don Vruwink is pushing. In a message sent out to those in Walworth County, including Whitewater, Milton, Janesville, and even more towns, he states that he thinks everyone would agree that today’s challenge in rural America is to extend this high speed internet, or broadband, to every household, farm, and business. His aim is to do that for Wisconsin.

Maddie Matty, a senior at the University of Wisconsn-Whitewater uses the internet almost daily both on campus and off campus.

“When it comes to papers, projects, and group assignments if I’m not sure about something, I always look it up to make sure what I’m doing is accurate. I also use it to be able to check emails, social media, and videos for different classes I’m in,” Matty said.

Students use computers diligently throughout the school year. Computers are used for many classes. Canvas, a course management program that utilizes online learning, is used for every class on campus. The UW-Whitewater app is another way that college is transferring information online. Colleges have continued to get more and more digitized as time goes on, letting there be entire classes and schools that do their curriculum completely online.

“Many classes require the use of the internet to access assignments or grades. It makes my life so much easier if I’m looking up a topic I didn’t understand in class, trying to find things to do on the weekends, or even seeing if stores have the things I need before I make the trip.” said Alisa Brown, a sophomore at UW-Whitewater.

State Representative Vruwink proposes that by 2035, there will be trillions of computers built into everything from food packaging to clothes. Computers themselves will be able to predict their own breakdowns and be able to fix themselves. The payoff to having broadband everywhere in rural Wisconsin would be enormous.

Research conducted by Vruwink shows that rural amenities such as outdoor activities, big affordable homes, and the expanse of the outside attract young Americans, but the lack of broadband deters them. With the widespread of broadband, rural communities would be able to attract the younger communities back to Wisconsin.

“When I don’t have internet access or bad wifi connection, especially since I live off campus, I get really frustrated because I often don’t have enough cell connection to use my own data,” said Alissa Korslin, a senior at UW-Whitewater.

When led in a committee vote, as Vruwink is a ranking member in the Assembly Rural Development Committee, he led the Democrats into a vote for a bill that will give incentives to phone companies to extend high speed internet to unserved and underserved areas of the state. The vote was settled at 14-0 in favor of the bill. This is not just a democratic issue, both Republicans and Democrats have been shown to¬¬¬ agree that broadband is needed everywhere.

For more information, or for any questions, feel free to reach Representative Vruwink at [email protected], 608-266-3790, or P.O. Box 8953, Madison Wisconsin, 53708.