Broadband Reference Guide

This guide was developed by the UW-Extension Broadband & E-Commerce Education Center for the Public Service Commission-Wisconsin.

The purpose of this guide is twofold: first, to help answer some of the basic questions about broadband and to provide you with the knowledge and tools to understand broadband services and technologies; second, to help you learn why broadband is necessary in the 21st century, what it means for business and public institutions, and how it benefits our communities and its citizens from Pre-K to gray. By understanding the basics of broadband, the different bandwidth needs, how consumers purchase services, and how to advocate for these technological changes, you can make educated decisions that impact your constituent base and help Wisconsin with its challenge to “bridge the digital divide” and bring broadband access to our rural communities.

Download the PSC Broadband Reference Guide

As a nation and state it is imperative that we pave the way for broadband. The National Broadband Plan is a roadmap to America’s future that recommends that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set the following goals for 2020:

  • GOAL No. 1: At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.
  • GOAL No. 2: The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.
  • GOAL No. 3: Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.
  • GOAL No. 4: Every American community should have affordable access to at least 1 gigabit per second broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.
  • GOAL No. 5: To ensure the safety of the American people, every first responder should have access to a nationwide, wireless, and interoperable broadband public safety network.
  • GOAL No. 6: To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy; every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.

Wisconsin’s Playbook for Broadband Progress offers the pathways to enhance broadband coverage and use in Wisconsin. However, to address the state or national goals it is
important to have a basic understanding of broadband and how it benefits Wisconsin.