Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cruel irony of incomplete telecom infrastructure plays near Wisconsin state capital

One of the cruelest ironies of America's incomplete telecommunications infrastructure is playing out not far from Madison, the capital of Wisconsin. The town of Berry, population 1,124, isn't large enough to attract investor owned providers. But at the same time, the incumbent provider, TDS Telecommunications, claims the federal government declined its request for subsidies for infrastructure improvements through funding earmarked for this purpose in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 because the town -- located just 20 miles from the capital -- isn't considered underserved, according to TDS Telecommunications.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Berry is has filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Public Utilities Commission saying TDS Telecommunications is failing to provide required service to the community. Community residents contend the poor level of service is making it difficult to work remotely from home and is making their properties less marketable.

The good people of Berry and their town leaders would be well advised to take matters into their own hands and begin working on a Plan B that could get them improved service faster than their PUC complaint, which could end up in the courts and take years to resolve even if they prevail. They should begin planning today to build publicly (or if that's not feasible cooperatively) owned fiber to the premises infrastructure.

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