The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

There is a critical broadband deadline coming up that you cannot miss. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently seeking your input about broadband at your residential and/or business address to determine whether their broadband maps are accurate.

All you have to do is visit www.broadbandmap.fcc.gov and put your address into the search bar. On the right side of the screen, you will see a list of all of the broadband providers who claim to serve your address and the speeds they claim are available to you.

This is where you need to do your part. If any of these claims are incorrect, you must Challenge them. Click on “Availability Challenge.” You will then be able to select a claim to challenge. Answer the questions to your comfort-level and challenge the map. Submitting a challenge is important if the results of the search are incorrect.

The FCC and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) will be using these maps to allocate funding and to determine which communities are served or unserved by reliable broadband infrastructure. If the data for your address is wrong – they need to know this. To ensure valid challenges are incorporated into the map before federal funding allocations are made, please submit challenges by January 13, 2023.

Wisconsin is positioned to receive more than $1.1 billion for broadband expansion from the Federal government over the next several years. In order to make sure that these funds reach us in rural Wisconsin, the map needs to be accurate and you need to do your part!

This new map is the most granular and up to date federal map of where broadband is and is not available across the country. However, the map was created with data that was submitted by telecommunications companies directly to the FCC.

In rural Wisconsin, we know that this data is often wrong. While big swaths of our communities are served by a particular company, there are neighborhoods and locations that are not served, but on the map, they look like they are. This is why it is crucial for you to search your address and challenge the data. Even if you have great broadband, please check the data and challenge it if the list is incorrect. We need good maps to make good decisions.

You may be thinking to yourself – well, Howard, I don’t use the internet. Why should I care?

You should care because the availability of broadband at your residence is a major factor in the resale value of your home and the future of your community. According to the Wisconsin Realtors Association (WRA), homeowners are losing up to 25% in the value of their homes if they do not have broadband. Therefore, even if you don’t use broadband now, broadband availability could make a huge difference when you sell your home. It is also a major factor in whether or not a business locates in our rural communities both for the business’ purposes and in order to recruit workforce.

Wisconsin has made tremendous progress in rural broadband expansion since we first started the Rural Broadband Expansion grant program in 2014. I am very proud of our state’s investments. More than $2.8 billion has been dedicated to broadband expansion in Wisconsin since 2014. A lot of these funds are still in process as telecommunications companies gear up for the next construction season this spring.

We must continue to fine-tune and target investments in rural broadband to reach the communities who are still waiting to be connected. You need to do your part to make sure that the maps used to deploy resources are accurate. Our small, local telecommunications companies, as well as larger providers throughout the state, are working hard to reach customers and we must support this work so that our people will be connected efficiently and effectively, as soon as possible.

Don’t forget and don’t put it off. Visit www.broadbandmap.fcc.gov by January 13, 2023. Challenge the claims that are incorrect. Make your voice heard. Do your part.

As always, please do not hesitate to connect with me to provide input, ideas or to seek assistance. Send an email to sen.marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov or call 608-266-0703.

– Marklein, R-Spring Green, is co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee and represents the 17th Senate District.

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