Fast Internet Can Lure Businesses, Says TN Entrepreneurship Advocate

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who traveled to Chattanooga to participate in Gigtank, is no longer involved, however. His latest venture is Curate, a Madison, WI-based startup that’s developing web-scraping software for digital marketers and business intelligence specialists.

On the whole, Internet speeds in Wisconsin are neither slow nor blazing-fast. Households in Madison that get service from Charter Communications can browse the Web at speeds up to 60 megabits per second for $40 a month. (A gigabit is equivalent to 1,000 megabits per second.) In Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city, one of the two dominant Internet service providers is Time Warner Cable. That company recently merged with Charter, so it seems likely that in the coming years, users in Milwaukee and Madison will pay similar rates for similar service.

Some local leaders in Wisconsin believe their cities should take matters into their own hands, as municipalities in Tennessee and other states have. In 2014, when I first wrote about high-speed Internet and fiber networks, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin explained that he and others were looking south in their effort to address the stranglehold cable companies, in particular Charter, had on the broadband market.

“As we look at other cities, particularly Chattanooga, we see some opportunities, which will address a number of these challenges,” Soglin told me.

Earlier this month, a report from a Maryland-based consultant projected that the cost of building a citywide fiber network in Madison could be between $143 million and $150 million, according to the Capital Times. Soglin and other leaders in the area have mentioned the possibility of using federal grants to pay some of the construction costs, as Chattanooga did with its nine-figure stimulus award.

A city committee that’s been studying options for providing faster and cheaper Internet service in Madison, and helped select the consultant that gave the cost estimate, reportedly will present key findings to the City Council in the fall.

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Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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