Madison, Wisconsin Eyes Muni Broadband Network


Madison, Wisconsin is exploring a new public broadband network. The move would make Madison the largest city in Wisconsin with a municipal broadband network.

According to the Journal Sentinel, city officials want Madison to join the ranks of other high profile gig cities like Chattanooga, and since no providers are chomping at the bit they may just build the network themselves. “American cities, {Mayor} Soglin said, can’t afford to “wait and hope” that Google or AT&T will develop a high-speed broadband network in a particular community.”

As CivSource reported last month, depending on providers may not be worthwhile anyway, as gigabit networks already announced have yet to exist anywhere beyond a press release.

Wisconsin has a history of public broadband fights. The state’s university broadband network was under attack in 2011, when the Republican controlled state legislature tried to put it on the chopping block during the budget process. The network faced pressure again in 2013.

If the public broadband plan is approved, network construction could begin in as little as two years. The network idea is already facing local opposition from private sector providers who don’t provide gigabit service in Madison, and say that gigabit service isn’t necessary.