Statewide speed tests look to help with internet access

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 9:37 PM CDT
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DURAND, Wis. (WEAU) -From telemedicine to education, having access to the internet is more important than ever, but not everyone has a good connection.

An internet speed test hopes to help people get connected.

An economic development group called Momentum West is making that speed test available here in western Wisconsin.

It’s part of a larger group of agencies working with the state to get everyone connected to the internet.

To help local governments work toward bringing the internet to everyone, nine economic development groups across the state are conducting internet speed tests.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is to gather where broadband is under served or not adequate for users,” said Cliff Albertson, a broadband consultant with Badger Communications in Durand.

Albertson is part of the push for more internet access.

He said for groups like Momentum West which focus on developing economic opportunities in specific parts of the state, internet is key for growing communities.

“If we can broadband Momentum West border to border, that’s going to drive economic prosperity, and that’s what’s going to drive the economy in our area, attracting remote workers and attracting new businesses, entrepreneurs starting new businesses,” Albertson said.

Momentum West serves nine different counties in western Wisconsin.

To help those counties with internet access, the first step is collecting data through speed tests.

“The speed testing shows both the upload and the download speeds,” Albertson said.

Albertson said these functions are important for everything from watching a movie online to dialing into a Zoom call.

If you don’t have internet at home, Albertson said your participation is still important.

“If you don’t have broadband at home, you can take it at the library or school,” Albertson said.

The test does ask for your home address or at least part of your address.

For those concerned about privacy, Albertson said: “It’s not going to show your actual address. It shows, we call them floating dots, in the general area where you’ve taken the speed test.”

Albertson said this will then help counties and local governments see what areas have the greatest need for internet access.

That will also help them apply for grants and work with internet service providers to fill in the gaps.

The deadline to take the speed test is May 8.

They are hoping to do another round of testing later this year.

Momentum West is one of nine groups in the state conducting these speed tests.

If you live in Polk, Barron, St. Croix, Pierce, Dunn, Pepin, Chippewa, Eau Claire or Clark County, click HERE to take the speed test.

For Rusk County, click HERE.

For Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon or Juneau County, click HERE.

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