Broadband speed tests in Wisconsin aim to find slow internet service

Workers for Eau Claire-based Underground Systems Inc. bury fiber optic cable last spring in Hager City. The project was partially funded by a $444,211 state Public Service Commission grant to Hager Telephone Co. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into getting high-speed internet, also known as broadband, to rural areas.

With high-speed internet considered essential for Wisconsin’s growth and prosperity, consumers and businesses have been asked to take speed tests to determine where coverage is lacking. 

The latest free test, promoted by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., will help show where internet speeds are below the Federal Communications Commission definition of broadband — an always-on connection of 25 Megabit per second downloads and 3 Mbps uploads — adequate for ordinary tasks such as streaming a video or posting items on social media.

At a time when people can work remotely and run businesses from practically anywhere, the internet should be a boon to the rural economy. Yet Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission estimated that in 2021 roughly 650,000 state residents lacked access to a reliable connection meeting the FCC’s broadband standard. 

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