Red Cliff to Represent WI Tribes on Gov. Evers' Task Force
Task Force on Broadband Access aims to expand internet access to all WI communities
Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order creating the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access, with the goal of successfully expanding high speed internet access to every residence, business, and institution in the state, while also providing affordable broadband access for all communities in Wisconsin.
Red Cliff IT Director Theron Rutyna has been appointed to the task force and will represent tribal nations across Wisconsin.
“Our reservations are rural and difficult to get to. They have laws that are different than the municipalities around them,” said Rutyna. “Providers of broadband and other communication services have been absent over the years due to many factors – some in their control, some out of their control, but mostly around funding.”
According to a press release from the office of Gov. Evers and an FCC broadband report, 26.7% of Wisconsin residents in rural areas lack access to at least one broadband service. Rutyna and the task force hope to change this and will work to meet a state goal to provide all Wisconsin residents access to affordable broadband internet by the year 2025.
“Tribes in Wisconsin represent the most rural of the rural and, in many cases, the most isolated of the State’s residents,” said Rutyna. “Having access to Broadband is a requirement not only for students, teachers, and others that need Broadband to work, but in many cases Broadband access is the only avenue towards economic development that an individual may have. Getting modern Broadband access for all Wisconsin Tribes and their membership should be a significant goal of the taskforce.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that access to high-speed broadband is a necessity, not a luxury, and folks across our state have had to adapt—from kids and educators shifting to virtual classrooms, workers having to work from home, and even folks using telemedicine to visit with their doctor,” said Gov. Evers. “I'm proud the People's Budget made the largest investment in our broadband infrastructure in Wisconsin history, but we know we have more work to do and we have to connect the dots on how lack of reliable, affordable broadband affects folks across our state.”
Red Cliff Vice-Chairman Nathan Gordon said the Tribe is very pleased with Rutyna’s appointment to the task force.
“Having representation on the task force will give Red Cliff and all of Wisconsin’s tribes a voice as it relates to expanding broadband services to our Nation,” Gordon said. “We are hopeful that this task force will greatly benefit Wisconsin’s Indian Country.”
An in-depth article on the task force can be found at www.wpr.org.
The original press release from the office of Gov. Evers can be found at www.evers.wi.gov.