Kelli Arseneau

For the US to fully realize the economic and cultural benefits of broadband, it must reach everyone and be built to last

The best broadband, it's generally agreed, is an affordable connection that supports the needs of consumers and businesses for many years into the future. It's not unreasonable to achieve because fiber-optic cable, the industry's gold standard, has near limitless capabilities.

Electricity transformed rural America nearly a century ago. Now, millions of people on farms and in small towns desperately need broadband.

At a time when people can work remotely and run businesses from practically anywhere, the internet should be a boon to the rural economy. Not only could it keep Wisconsin's signature farming industry connected, it could help curb population losses in small towns, where many young people feel they must leave for opportunities elsewhere. Yet a significant portion of rural Wisconsin — if it has access to the internet at all — lacks access at broadband speeds, meaning a connection of at least 25 megabit per second downloads and 3 Mbps uploads.