Rural businesses ready for change with broadband coverage

Rural businesses ready for change with broadband coverage

Lawmakers unveiled a bill Tuesday that would help rural communities receive better broadband coverage, and surrounding rural business owners said they’re ready for the change.

“We deal with this every year,” Lhundup Chowng said.

Chowng has been a monk at the Deer Park Buddhist Center in Oregon for the last 14 years and has experienced his fair share of internet issues.

He said the slow internet especially affects the center during the summer months when international students come for school.

“If you have more than 20 people and everybody is using two devices at the same time, so an average of about 40 devices, the system will definitely slow down,” Chowng said.

While businesses and students in rural areas are major targets, they are not the only ones affected.

“Forty percent of rural areas do not have broadband access. It’s very important for their health. It’s important for their healthcare,” John Eich said.

Eich is the director for the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health, and said while rural hospitals themselves have received faster internet, many of their patients have not.

“Providers and those hospitals and clinics still need to communicate with their patients and those patients need to research their conditions and get additional resources. All of that is dependent upon good internet access,” Eich said.

With 19 percent of Wisconsin residents affected by the broadband issues, lawmakers are doing what they can to help.

The Rural Wisconsin Initiative introduced a bill Tuesday ensuring the broadband expansion grant program receives funds.

“Our bill goes a step further to make sure this money is spent wisely and that our dollars go as far as possible into the rural areas that they are targeted at,” Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Rice Lake, said.

It’s something the Buddhist Center has been waiting a long time to receive.

“Everybody will have up-to-date technology in the sense of broadband and faster service,” Chowng said.