State Updates Broadband Enhancement Plan
Pinedale broadband groundbreaking. Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Business Council.
Less than a year after its creation, Wyoming’s updated broadband plan went into effect July 1.
“The original plan got us a great start,” said Russ Elliott, the state’s broadband manager in a press release. “We’ve made significant and meaningful improvements already.”
Elliott cited improved redundancy in Hulett and fiber in Saratoga as just a few examples of the group’s progress.
The updates approved by the Broadband Advisory Council and the Wyoming Business Council point to the importance of broadband in the diversification of the state economy.
Elliott said the updates clarify some definitions and provide details on some critical subjects such as education, telehealth, and mobile broadband.
The definition of “unserved” was updated to bring speed requirements in line with the Federal Communications Commission, which also plans to make federal funds available to more Wyoming communities.
Another update is to redirect $3 million from the broadband program to the Business Ready Community Program for public-private partnership grant funds to improve broadband coverage in rural areas.
Public input in the update process revealed many Wyomingites are more concerned about the connectivity of cell phones in remote areas than they are about their home and business connections. That prompted an added goal of mobile broadband to achieve 100 percent mobile coverage statewide by 2023.
Other updates ensure the plan remains flexible and adaptable in order to evolve with the ever-changing broadband environment.
“The state’s broadband enhancement efforts go so far beyond the convenience of downloading a movie in a few seconds,” Elliott said. “Telehealth solutions can allow people to age at home and keep vulnerable people out of emergency rooms. Education options deliver an entire world of knowledge and opportunity to classrooms anywhere. Reliable mobile broadband connects everything, from a farmer running his center pivots in the field to a job-seeker waiting for a call or a teenager needing a safe ride home. It’s lives and livelihoods we’re impacting here, and it’s critical to the state that we do it right.”