EAGLE RIVER - Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) traveled to the Northwoods this weekend. The senator wanted to hear from community members about the need for more broadband access in rural areas of the state.
"There are still places in Wisconsin where there is no access to broadband," said Baldwin.
Baldwin argues broadband access is essential.
"It's a must in the 21st century," she said.
Baldwin hosted a roundtable in Eagle River to discuss expanding and utilizing broadband in rural Wisconsin.
Don Sidlowski, a member of the Northwoods Broadband and Economic Development Coalition, says rural and urban areas should have the same level of broadband access.
"There can't be two Wisconsins, one where you've got all of the advantages of the 21st century and the other Wisconsin that struggles to keep up and to compete," said Sidlowski.
Members of the roundtable included service providers, educators, village administrators, and other broadband advocates. One issue brought up was the need to make federal funding for broadband expansion more accessible.
"If we really want those resources to be deployed, to end up at people's homes and businesses, we can't make it so cumbersome to apply for and qualify for that people just pass on it," said Baldwin.
Baldwin was also given a tour of the Northland Pines School District fab lab.
"It's a way that shows that broadband, which you need to power a fab lab, connects the two in way of education," said Sidlowski.
The senator agrees students need to have internet access at their schools and their homes.
"Some students go to an area where they'll get their homework done, others don't have access and that's creating haves and have-nots in our educational system. That is not right," said Baldwin.
Overall, Sidlowski thinks the event went well.
"I think she got terrific information today and valuable to her as she heads back to Washington and try to advocate for our sakes here in the Northwoods," he said.
And some of that information may come in handy soon. Baldwin says the Senate is on the verge of debating a big infrastructure project. She wants President Trump to include broadband in his infrastructure plans.
"The reason I am urging him to think of broadband in that is because of how vital it is to our economy and frankly our educational access," said Baldwin.