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AT&T Politicians Take Aim at Wisconsin Broadband Funds
Protectionism Dressed up as Fiscal Responsibility
by Karl Bode 08:35AM Wednesday Jun 08 2011 Tipped by goillini See Profile
Back in February we noted that Wisconsin was poised to be the first state to give back their federal broadband infrastructure funding, which would have been used to improve police, fire, hospital, school and library connectivity across some 380 Wisconsin communities. It's not that Wisconsin didn't need the infrastructure improvement, it's that AT&T (who literally writes the telecom laws in the state) dominates the state connectivity options with a over-priced and under-powered service called Badgernet, which AT&T is interested in protecting. According to the Wisconsini State Journal, AT&T has lawmakers in the state pushing this line of thinking, taking aim at WiscNet funding:
The University of Wisconsin System would be forced to return about $37 million in federal funds intended to extend broadband Internet across Wisconsin, under a provision passed by the Legislature’s budget committee Friday. The legislation would also prohibit UW System campuses from supporting WiscNet, a cooperative that brings high-speed Internet to most schools and libraries across the state. Campus leaders say they fear the change could cripple the network.
To be clear: state politicians dress this sort of behavior up as fiscal responsibility, but it's simple protectionism at AT&T's behest, with the added benefit of keeping educators and emergency personnel under-connected and over-paying. "Who needs 1Gbps fiber when AT&T can sell you a good 'ol 1.5 Mbps T1?" asks article submitter goillini See Profile.

topics flat nest 

BF69 fan


Only 9 letters are needed here.

Eff off AT&T

Arcadia, FL

Re: Only 9 letters are needed here.

this telco should be banned from writing laws in their own interest

Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

Cheyenne, WY

1 recommendation

The parallels in history of astonishing

A little over a hundred years ago what was then the information superhighway was mostly all a part of the Rail Roads. At the time the RR's had pet congressmen and Senators in Washington as well as domination in many state legislatures. They fought anything that would effect their monopolies on RR routes and telegraph service. It wasn't until reform minded people took control in Washington when this monopoly was broken up and antitrust regulations were passed into law. Sadly we are in the same situation today. Revolving door regulators going to work for the very companies they are charged with regulating. Congressmen and Senators at the State and national level so hungry for money to pay for increasingly expensive campaign's they are wide open to bribery. While all this is going on, just like a hundred years ago the average person is screwed.
I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
- Mark Twain in Eruption


New York, NY

Re: The parallels in history of astonishing

It's going to take a really long time for any action. Truly sad what's happening in America.

Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Mount Airy, MD


It's not that Wisconsin didn't need the infrastructure improvement ...
Do they need the fund or don't they? And if they do, why is it a federal concern?

I never understood why all this money seems to always be needed to "improve infrastructure." How hard is it to actually set this stuff up and keep it running without the need to dump more funding into it?

Keep the following in mind if you think that "there isn't enough money going to improve vital infrastructure"

said by pnh102 :
When you have hundreds of millions of dollars a month collected in 911 fees (assume about 286 million cell users in the USA according to wiki, and 150 million land line users in the USA also according to wiki), this adds up to 436 million monthly phone bills. If the average 911 fee is $1, that comes out to almost half a billion dollars collected every month to finance 911 operations.
Most of this money goes into state coffers. Where is it going? Is it even being used to pay for 911?
"Net Neutrality" zealots - the people you can thank for your capped Internet service.

That VoIP Guy
East Lansing, MI

Re: Well...

This particular case, the schools are trying to build WiscNet to overbuild the existing BaderNet system that is run by AT&T. Some Colleges are connected with a T1 or two for the /entire/ school. AT&T has not shown any interest in improving it because it would be too costly for them to build. So, the University of Wisconsin schools decided to pull their own fiber and connect these schools with what the federal government considers high-speed.

As schools are being connected to WiscNet, they are disconnecting from AT&T's BadgerNet.

This federal money was money that was set aside to improve broadband access to schools, hospitals and communities. It was set aside by the FCC to do exactally what WiscNet is supposed to do.

The 911 money you are talking about goes right back to AT&T. It helps fund their e911 initative, and improvements to community 911 centers (many have exclusive agreements with AT&T to manage them, let alone the infastrcture that is used to provide them service).

Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

Cheyenne, WY

Re: Well...

There was a similar thing going on with the University of Wyoming in Laramie. They provided internet service to the local schools. The interesting thing about this however is for years UW effectively blocked then US West from providing internet access in Laramie. The monopoly was not broken until the local cable outfit started to offer this service and because of how cable is regulated UW could not block it.
I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
- Mark Twain in Eruption

Displaced Yooper
Neenah, WI
That is not completely accurate.

WiscNet already has a substantial infrastructure in place; and is far superior to the BadgerNet Converged Network.
Guilty or Innocent? You Decide... »Pub Games

We the people
Brewster, WA
said by pnh102:

Most of this money goes into state coffers. Where is it going? Is it even being used to pay for 911?

Yes it goes to the state, yes it pays for 911. And most 911 dispatch locations are government run (some are private so those have to make a profit but still get their share of the 911 tax) so maybe the state collects and disperses it to counties like counties collect taxes and disperse to cities and agencies and even back up to the state.

Funny thing about taxes, they seem to universally go into {scary} coffers. how odd.
Say no to JAMS!



Confused by one point

Unless it part of an anti-community broadband stance, why would they prohibit UW schools from using the existing WiscNet if they choose?

I don't like tax dollars going to broadband 'projects' and turning that money down is a separate issue that I support.

Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

Cheyenne, WY

Re: Confused by one point

I should have clarified UW = University of Wyoming
That's OK I haven't had my coffee either

Oh I see you where answering up the thread, My fogged mind has still not been given it's morning dose of motion lotion so this is being typed by one brain cell.

Tavistock NJ

Part of a budget proposal to get Univ funding under control

»host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/ ··· 2e0.html
cut $250 million from the UW System over the two-year budget.
Whenever the feds give you money it always translates in to higher state taxes as part of the deal.
Record your speedtest.net results in DSLReports SpeedWave
»www.speedtest.net/wave/afe201cb8 ··· 84d45c88

Greensboro, NC


These days, wherever ATT has their hand in something they are fighting change. Are they really dumb enough to believe they can hold a college to staying on a t1? I mean you've got to be pretty dumb to believe something like this.

And just where does ATT have any right to tell the state government when and how they can build their own network for public service? I mean I am in NC where the ignorant republicans passed a bill in ATT and TWC's favor to prevent municipalities from creating their own networks which is bad enough. But geez, seriously ATT, are you that dumb.

Despite the lethargic pace of broadband growth in NC one thing we do have that IS very good and was built long before ATT and TWC could get their money backed politicians to block it is the statewide North Carolina Research and Education Network. WWW.NCREN.NET It is a statewide fiber optic network that connects most of NC's public and private colleges as well as community colleges and many public and private schools across the state. It is large already built out. It is all state owned and operate so I am not sure now how ATT would have the ability to stop something as large as NCREN from receiving upgrades. But their connections to local universities and colleges are way ahead of the T1's that ATT is trying to limit with badgernet. Some UNC campuses have dual 1 Gigabit Ethernet connections (via fiber) to the internet.

Chandler, AZ

Let me Guess another Republican state

Let me Guess another Republican state....I would recommend even removing badgernet because most of these people are too dumb for anything

Portland, ME

Re: Let me Guess another Republican state

yes....republicans are worthless scumbags.anyone who is middle class and below and still votes republican is a true fool.
you will reap what you sew.

loss of benefits
loss of public money
corruption to big business
Madison, WI

4 edits


Maybe I'm missing something, but I know for a fact that basically WiscNET is integrated into the UW system. To start, all WiscNet queries go through UW-Madison's main router and all the connections are like VPN's. While AT&T does have a large share of Badgernet, Norlight (KDL), and 2 other carriers also provides main connections for the program.

Translation, YOU CAN'T SEPARATE WISCNET FROM THE UW WITHOUT BUILDING A NEW NETWORK! And where would the money for that come from?

WiscNet Network Map:
»www.eng.wiscnet.net/stats/docs/n ··· ter.html

This is a quote:
"Meachen says one of the unintended consequences of the legislation is that the University of Wisconsin, cannot join any association, collaborative or consortium that serves any institutions, public or private, outside of the UW system.

“The implications for this are so dire, as to be unbelievable,” he said. “We have to resign from Internet2, we can't be part of it, or Boreasnet. These are huge federal government research networks that are mandatory for many of our federal grants. We have a billion dollars in grants at UW-Madison. We don't know how many tens of millions of dollars we won't be able to get because we are not members of Internet2.”

Funny thing is that the money the state gave back to the feds for broadband, was ACTUALLY last-mile access! They pawned it off on middle-mile access, but it was for schools to put a fiber for about 1-3 miles from the main CO's in the ILEC's area's. Oh ya, and then they were going to basically GIVE the fiber to the ILEC's to "manage".

The real issue is simply the republicans in the state going after anything and EVERYTHING they can before they are recalled in elections. The Governor (Walker) is doing it, just like he pushed "Fiscal Responsibility" aka Collective bargaining through the state house and senate. It all a big joke, and now that people in the state are informed as to what is happening, they are recalling state senators, and the governor to come. That is why 100,000 people show'd up at the capital in Madison in March to protest Walker's budget...All while he slipped out though a tunnel from the capital to the Risser Justice center, so as basically to get out and not be seen.

Sounded screwed up then, just as much as it does now.

Here are some letters people are writing about this legislation:
Expand your moderator at work

Manitowoc, WI

Why no news on the deregulation bill that was signed?

Wisconsin telecom deregulation bill signed into law: »www.greenbaypressgazette.com/art ··· into-law

Get with it dslr.....
Madison, WI

Re: Why no news on the deregulation bill that was signed?

I'm sure Steve Schnieder (Bug Tussel) was involved in that one!



What a joke

I work for a small cable company here in Wisconsin. The telco's are a joke. We build FTTH everyday to customers that Frontier does nothing with. They all want broadband but Frontier does nothing but suck up money and pay bonus to the higher ups! The feds classify Cell 3G as broadband. Except if you are a cell user your lucky to get 256k most of the time in the country, and once you hit your bandwidth limit for the month be prepaid to pay thousands in over chargers. One blu-ray exceeds the monthly usage! It's unworkable to say the least. We offer fiber to the home with speed up to 100mb and unlimited usage. What causes me to rant is we have to pay into the USF. We pay but can never apply for the funds. Its pure graff for the Telcos. We, the company that is offering land lines with all the call feachers, 500 min of long distance to anywhere in the US or Canada for a fee of less then $20 including taxes and mystery charges, the company who offers rural Internet up to 100mb in speed and unlimited usage, today, right now, not in the future, has to pay into the USF so Frontier can be subsidised to offer phone for $25 to the poor, with no long distance and maybe one day, (that never comes) offer 1.5mb DSL to areas we are already servicing with no handouts! AAaaarrrrrhhhhh...........If they really want to subsidise broadband give each customer a $1200 valucher to give to the company of their choice. Company's like our would compete by offer the best deals and everyone would get high speed Internet. The crooked politicians need to get out of the private sector.



Private sector solutions

Welcome to GOP la-la land. The private sector can and should do everything better. Anything that takes money away from mega-corporations is bad and there is no such thing as a public good. Keep voting GOP... their overlords still don't have all the middle classes money and needs reliable politicians to do their bidding.



Re: Private sector solutions

so for the last 8 years the democrats were in greater majority everything was just peachy keen and things only started going bad this year when the republicans came into power? .. if its all the republicans fault then why werent these internet issues in wisconsin fixed BEFORE the republicans came into majority and "messed things up"?.
Im neither republican nor democrat and wish the two party zealots would stophijacking every debate and turning it into a puritanical witchhunt.

Bill Neilson
Arlington, VA

The bottom line is many who are

against taking the federal funds do so strictly for political reasons and thats about it...hence their high anger at the "feds getting involved" yet they cant really show any actual reason for not wanting the money.

AT&T and others leak these things such as the "big, bad government is comical" and certain people run with it as they do just about everything.

The days of hating things because of actual facts are long gone.