MADISON, Wis. — Regardless of the score in the Packers vs. Titans Thursday, many fans were disappointed because being on Amazon Prime, they weren’t able to watch it in the first place.
Lack of broadband in homes, bars and other places across the state is something the Public Service Commission is trying to fix, but they said it takes time.
“I mean, I’ve been to multiple bars,” said Branden Mueller, who had to scramble a bit to find a bar where he could repeat his green-and-gold and watch football on Thursdays.
“A lot of them (they said), ‘Oh, we don’t have Prime or we’re not able to air it because we don’t have Prime,'” she told SconnieBar on Thursday.
When it comes to every Thursday Night Football game on Prime video alone this season, “I feel like the NFL is sold out,” Mueller said.
Not all the Packers fans in the bar that night thought it was a complete fumble.
“Thursday Night Football became something that was shot down quite a lot, so there weren’t a lot of suitors, so I completely understand how Amazon Prime got it,” said Peter Murphy.
“Streaming is going to be the thing of the future,” he said, “it has to get a little bit better with its quality, but as the internet world progresses it’s going to get better.”
That can be a problem when more than 180,000 Wisconsin homes and businesses have yet to go online, according to Alyssa Kenney of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
“Our foot is on the accelerator, but broadband infrastructure and a good high-performance broadband infrastructure takes time,” he said.
Kenney, the PSC’s director of state broadband and digital equity, said PSC has connected more than 100,000 new locations with state funds over the past two years.
In October, Governor Tony Evers released $40 million in American Rescue Plan Act federal funds through the Capital Projects Fund for broadband expansion.
“We absolutely want everyone in Wisconsin to be able to watch the Packers, that’s a top priority. But you know, likewise, accessing your doctor’s appointments, your kids who are in school can access the resources they need to be successful,” Kenney said.[Internet is] only part of society’s access now and the people who don’t have it are really left behind.
According to Kenney, between $700 million and $1 billion in federal dollars could also come once the government approves broadband funding from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.
“We’ll be able to pull in some planning funds and that will allow us to engage more closely with local communities, build any data or systems that we need, so we’re really fully prepared when the additional revenue, the additional funds come down.” , She said.
But government determining which localities are unserved for broadband can complicate matters, Kenney said.
“The state has a definition of unserved and the federal government has a definition of unserved, and they’re really not quite jive,” he explained.
Wisconsin would get the full amount of the $5 million planning fund, over a nine-month process.
Then comes the next stage.
“So there’s the pre-engineering and the design, there’s the pre-ordering of materials, there’s the labor it requires, for many projects, there’s permits, so working with local communities to make sure we have permits, whether it’s the right route or opening up any land and public access roads,” Kenney said.
So construction is another tough game.
“Most of the infrastructure in the state of Wisconsin is buried facilities. So, it’s underground and it’s bored, and so there’s also a limited construction season in our state because the ground freezes for a period of time,” she said.
So as the funds are announced to the public, “it’s hard when people see the funding coming out, I think they want broadband tomorrow and it’s really going to be broadband in 1-2 years,” Kenney said.
Even for some who have the internet, affordability can be a barrier, which is why a federal affordability program is available to claim $30 off your bill.
In the meantime, fans will just have to scan the field for bars, friends, or any other Prime-rated Cheeseheads on Thursdays. “
True fans will find a way to watch it,” said Murphy’s friend Guy Kopp.
For those who have the internet, but have no idea how to get Amazon Prime, “local libraries are just an incredible resource for walk-in help to offer digital literacy classes,” Kenney said. “Hopefully as we plan, we can plan for that adoption, that digital literacy, those other bits and pieces that people really need to take full advantage of the technology.”
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