Connect Illinois Program Announced to Bring Broadbrand to Rural Areas

By Benjamin Cox on August 16, 2019 at 12:58pm

Illinois Map of Unserved Areas - the areas in lighter shades of blue have little to no broadband service available.

Broadband Internet for the City of Jacksonville has been underway for several months
now. The Special Studies Committee at the city has been undertaking a project to bring municipal broadband to residents to the city to combat high costs of local, private companies and their pricing. The city may have received a big boost from the State of Illinois yesterday. Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the Connect Illinois project to bring broadband to Illinois’ underserved areas.

Connect Illinois includes a capital investment from Rebuild Illinois, the creation of a Broadband Advisory Council and Broadband Office, and a new program that will provide all Illinois public K-12 students access to high-speed broadband at no charge. The initiative also includes a $400 million broadband grant program and a $20 million capital program for the Illinois Century Network, a high-speed broadband network serving K-12 and higher education institutions, among others.

Pritzker said the advisory council will have a major area of focus for the project. “With an increasing need in health care coverage, the council’s focus on tele-health will provide new healthcare options for everyone in Illinois, especially in more remote communities in rural Illinois including expanded treatment options for mental health and opioid addiction.”

Pritzker says the council will also work to bring on board federal funding to complete the project. According to the USDA, fully utilizing digital technologies within the agriculture industry could create approximately $47 to $65 billion annually in additional gross benefit for the U.S. Economy as well as create several hundred new jobs.