Spurred by poor state rankings for broadband connectivity, a federal official has organized a “broadband summit” to be held later this month in Casper.
Wally Wolski, the new state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s office of Rural Development, said the Wyoming Rural Broadband Summit on Oct. 10 will give elected officials, broadband service providers, engineers and others a chance to discuss the obstacles to statewide broadband internet service.
“In certain areas of our state, the connectivity is as good as any place in the country,” Wolski said. “However, in our state because of our population, there are areas that don’t have any connectivity.”
Wyoming is ranked 46th in the country for broadband connectivity, according to a recent study by BroadbandNow — a self-described watchdog group which “helps consumers find and compare Internet service providers in their area.”
Wolski said it is a priority of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue to help rural states get connected.
Wolski said the disparity between urban and rural areas for broadband connectivity is similar to the “electrification gap” in the US back in the 1920s and 1930s.
“It was a real case of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’,” he said. “We have the same issue today with broadband. Electrification didn’t just provide lights to rural areas, it empowered people and look at all the things that came about because of electricity.”
Wolski said the key to having a successful outcome is to put people who have the power to implement decisions in the same room and to share ideas, experiences, and solutions.
For more information on the summit, to be held at the Casper Events Center, visit the USDA Rural Development Office website at https://www.rd.usda.gov/wy or call (307) 233-6700.