Thursday, September 23, 2021


States are poised to help resettle Afghan evacuees who fled their home country after the U.S. military exit; efforts emerge to help Native Americans gain more clean energy independence.


Sen. Mitch McConnell refuses to support raising the debt ceiling; Biden administration pledges $500 million of COVID vaccine doses globally; and U.S. military says it's taking steps to combat sexual assault.


A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Temporary Program Can Help WI Residents with Internet Bills


Monday, May 24, 2021   

TOMAHAWK, Wis. - Wisconsin residents struggling to afford internet service during the pandemic can turn to a federal program for help. Supporters say it addresses a component of broadband access that is sometimes overlooked.

Through its Emergency Broadband Benefit, the Federal Communications Commission provides service discounts of up to $50 a month for qualifying households, and $75 a month for homes on tribal lands.

Sue Dierksen, who lives in north-central Wisconsin, said slow service causes many limitations, including her family's ability to use telemedicine. And all around her, Dierksen said affordability is a concern for many residents, including those over 50.

"You couple that with what's going on with prescription drugs and health care," said Dierksen. "Something's got to give."

In Wisconsin, the average internet cost per megabit is $4.32, which is higher than the national rate.

People are urged to sign up quickly, as the Emergency Broadband Benefit will be in force either until its funds are gone, or six months after the pandemic is over. Eligible households can apply through participating internet service providers.

In recent years, state and federal leaders have made efforts to address broadband gaps, including infrastructure needs in rural areas. But cost can still be intimidating for people to even sign up for service, and AARP Wisconsin's State Director Sam Wilson said this program makes that less of a worry.

"We're hoping this program will help a lot of folks take that initial step," said Wilson. "Connect them more with family members, connect them more with services in their community."

During the crisis, Wilson noted people with internet access could rely on options like Amazon deliveries to avoid day-to-day disruptions. But those without service or with slow download speeds saw their world turned upside-down in a flash.

Dierksen said she feels it's important to make sure all parts of the state stay connected - because when you need help, internet access usually plays a role.

"Every state agency, and probably almost every county agency," said Dierksen, "relies on you using the internet to do their work and to communicate with them, as does Social Security and Medicare."

The program coincides with Gov. Tony Evers directing $100 million of COVID-relief money to broadband expansion grants. He also wants the Legislature to commit $200 million to improve access, but it's uncertain if Republican leaders will approve that request.

Disclosure: AARP Wisconsin contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
Political canvassing across the country dropped dramatically during the 2020 election due to concerns over COVID-19 transmission via in-person door-knocking. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

LEWISBURG, W.Va. -- Political canvassers and organizers in the state are expecting they will continue to struggle with challenges to traditional …


CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- A federal court agreed with conservationists this week, ordering winter feeding of elk on the Bridger-Teton National Forest …

Social Issues

FARGO, N.D. -- In the near future, North Dakota is poised to help resettle 49 Afghan evacuees who fled their home country after the U.S. military …

Local opposition to the proposed land swap was strong before the Idaho Department of Lands rejected the deal. (PNS/Corbeil)


MCCALL, Idaho -- After the rejection of a developer's proposed land swap near Payette Lake, a coalition of groups wants the state to do the opposite…

Health and Wellness

DENVER -- Colorado's ability to respond to COVID-19 was blunted by decades of disinvestment in critical public services, according to a new report…

Beginning in 2022, Nebraska's Department of Education will begin offering farm-to-school producer training in various regions of the state. (Adobe Stock)


GERING, Neb. -- With school back in session, many Nebraska students will be fueled by fresh beef, fruits and vegetables sourced from local farms…

Social Issues

By Abaki Beck for Yes!Media.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Minnesota News Connection reporting for the YES! Media-Public News Service …


ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Farm bureaus and agricultural leaders of Chesapeake Bay watershed states are pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund a …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021