Spencer Broadband Meeting

02/26/2016 Digital Leader, Economic Development, Rural Broadband, Wisconsin by j.smith

Success Story: High Speed Internet, Spencer Branch Library, Marathon County, Wisconsin

The Spencer Branch librarian came over to me and waited until a pause in my conversation. “Excuse me,” she said “I’m going to leave now. I locked the doors to the building. You all can leave when you like.” It was 8:15pm and the High Speed Internet Program at the Spencer Library was scheduled to last until 7:30pm. The discussion was going so well that at 7:30pm I asked the librarian if it would be okay to stay right up until 8pm when the library closed. “No problem.” The librarian said and continued to remark; “I sat in on the program for a few minutes and it was excellent. I can’t believe that so many people showed up. I don’t want to rush you guys. Stay until you are finished.” It was a similar statement that the Hatley Branch librarian made a month earlier when we brought the High Speed Internet Program to eastern Marathon County.

Three representatives from Frontier Internet and a gentleman from Country Wireless sat on the Spencer Branch Library High Speed Internet panel. Our topic was High Speed Internet expansion in rural Marathon County. What do we, as residents, businesses, service providers and municipalities, need to do to get fast, reliable, high speed internet in rural Marathon County? The answer is that it is a long process, but if we all work together, we will make progress.

Working together is exactly what we are doing in Marathon County. In addition to the service providers in attendance, there was an economic development representative, chamber of commerce representative, and a telecommuter. Prior to the High Speed Internet Program, I spoke with those folks over the phone. I was certain that they would be at the program. Around 6:20pm the first ‘concerned citizen’, as he called himself, walked in the door. And then another concerned citizen followed him. And another.

By 6:30pm, when I turned on Google+ Hangouts, to stream the program live, there were a total of 22 people in attendance. Those people were civil and active participants in the discussion that took place at the Spencer Branch Library. Dialogue during the High Speed Internet Program covered information about CAF 2 and Connect America funding, current infrastructure, resident and town involvement, and more.

Did anyone walk out of the High Speed Internet Program with faster, more reliable or affordable internet? No. That wasn’t the point. The purpose of the program was to bring people together to learn about available resources, the way to utilize available resources, and the stakeholders who will help make change in our community.

Watch the YouTube video to view the High Speed Internet Program at the Spencer Branch Library.


via Kenzie Payne, UW-Extension Marathon County Community Educator


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