Senate panels to discuss broadband network

Senate panels to discuss broadband network

The Wisconsin Senate’s telecommunications and universities committees are set to review broadband provider WiscNet’s status.

WiscNet is a nonprofit organization that provides cheap Internet access for UW System institutions, public schools and libraries. UW has partnered with WiscNet for years, providing employees and infrastructure.

Republicans contend UW is subsidizing telecommunications and putting private vendors at a disadvantage. They have ordered the system to disengage with WiscNet.

UW officials responded by opening up bids for a new Internet provider but wound up awarding the contract to WiscNet, angering Republicans. Last month the system rescinded the deal, creating uncertainty about WiscNet’s future and whether schools and libraries might have to turn to pricier vendors.

The two committees are set to hold a joint public hearing on the situation Monday.