Wyoming's new broadband plan is set for public review
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Several months after its approval by the Wyoming Senate, a statewide broadband enhancement plan is headed for public review this week.
The result of an 11-person advisory council established last spring, the draft plan outlines the state’s proposed methods for improving broadband access in some of Wyoming’s most far-flung areas and suggests strategies for leveraging $10 million in state money earmarked for broadband infrastructure improvement projects.
Released Monday, the plan is open for public and comment and review until Monday, after which it will be updated and submitted to the state Legislature for review and approval no later than Sept. 1.
Russ Elliot, the state’s newly hired broadband manager, said the plan will be a malleable one, serving not as an overarching policy of the state’s broadband programming but as a “guiding document” for the future of broadband infrastructure across Wyoming.
The ultimate goal, according to the plan, is to ensure “every Wyoming citizen and every identified business corridor will have the opportunity to access broadband Internet capabilities that exceed defined standards by no later than 2023,” with minimum speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and three megabits per second upload in residential areas. The plan’s stated goals also set a minimum of one gigabits per second download speed and 100 megabits per second upload speed in state-defined business corridors – a stated goal of the Wyoming Business Council.
The plan involves “leveraging public-private partnerships, assessing regulations, evaluating funding sources and integrating emerging technologies,” as the best steps to move forward, according to a press release. If all goes according to plan, applications from vendors will be accepted by the state sometime in the first quarter of 2019.
Elliot’s department will be responsible for managing relations between the private interests and the public, ensuring the state isn’t overstepping its bounds, and ensuring the fiscal sustainability of the firms granted those contracts.
The conditions of those contracts, as well as the rules regulating the rest of the broadband program, are widely outlined in SF0100, the bill behind the inception of the Wyoming Broadband Advisory Council, which drafted the plan.
State officials have their work cut out for them, according to Elliot. Though the most rural areas of the state have been well-documented as under-served, Elliot said service is decent in the areas where broadband service is available, and that improvements to the state’s network are more in-line with providing equitable access and opportunity for everyone across the state.
“The challenges Wyoming has are not unique, other than the fact things are very spread out,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re not coming from a pulpit where people aren’t served at all: where we do have services, we’re actually quite good.”
The 18-page plan can be read in its entirety on the Wyoming Business Council website. Public comment will be reviewed and addressed at the advisory council’s meeting on Thursday in Lander.