From Wyoming Draft Digital Access Plan (July 17, 2023)

Wyoming’s vision is to ensure that every citizen and business can connect to and effectively use affordable, reliable, and future-proof broadband.

The first part of this vision – connecting – is critical to success for Wyoming. Today, approximately 73% of Wyoming’s broadband serviceable locations (BSLs) are served. Through existing federal funding commitments, WBO expects that percentage to increase to 85%. With a combination of new programs (e.g., BEAD and Connect Wyoming 2 [CPF]) and private investment, WBO believes that all locations will soon be able to access broadband reliably and, wherever possible, through a future-proof technology. This bold vision will not be easily achieved. Three factors make deployment in Wyoming especially challenging – population density, land area, and topography. Wyomingites are dispersed across the state, resulting in a population density of only 6 people per square mile. Wyoming is also a frontier state with the smallest population of any of the 50 states but the 9th largest land area. Finally, with an average elevation of 6,700 feet, Wyoming’s mountainous terrain can pose logistical and cost challenges to deploying fiber optic cable. Through the state’s BEAD plans (Five-Year Action Plan and Initial Proposal), Wyoming will propose a sustainable strategy for bringing all citizens and businesses online.

The second part of this vision – affordability – will be realized through both Wyoming’s BEAD Five-Year Action Plan and Digital Access Plan. These plans support an increase in the affordable supply of broadband by engaging with providers to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and offer low-cost plans, driving citizen awareness of affordable plans, and supporting ongoing efforts to increase affordable devices (e.g., through device loans or refurbishment). Together, these activities will increase broadband adoption across the state.

Lastly, the third part of this vision – effective use of broadband – will be achieved by increasing the number of people and businesses who both find value in broadband internet access and make meaningful use of it. This can be achieved in three ways:

  • Digital skill development at schools, libraries, workplaces, community colleges, and universities
  • Government services delivered more effectively and efficiently online, particularly for Covered Populations
  • Safe and secure online environments for Wyoming’s citizens

As WBO considers the strategies it will undertake to implement the Digital Access Plan, it will focus on increasing the number of citizens with access to affordable broadband and devices. It will prioritize digital skills and online privacy. Wyoming will also build on these actions to improve the delivery and accessibility of online government services for its citizens. These initiatives will enable greater economic resilience and growth, both bringing new citizens to the state and helping current Wyomingites grow their diverse businesses (e.g., via new business starts and expansions of family-owned businesses).

To accomplish this effort, WBO has built a team of technical experts and advisors. Concurrently, agencies across the Executive Branch are identifying key personnel to support both planning and implementation. With this talented, multi-disciplinary team, WBO is well positioned to act on this ambitious Digital Access Plan.

WBO recognizes that the nature of this federal funding is one-time, which has different implementation implications for broadband infrastructure and digital access. While investment in infrastructure can be successful on a one-time basis, the same is not universally true for other areas related to digital access. Therefore, WBO is focused on designing efforts with an eye towards sustainability. To start, WBO has identified existing efforts and potential partners that can help the state accelerate and sustain the impact of these foundational investments.