Illinois will be spending over $400 million over the next decade to improve Internet access to small towns and rural areas in the state. The Illinois Office of Broadband is currently seeking a third-party vendor to create a map that tracks reliable Internet connectivity, according to a report by Illinois NPR.
Currently, the Federal Communications Commission tracks high-speed Internet connections through its own maps. However, the way the mapping has been constructed at the federal level has been criticized for being inaccurate for rural areas in the nation. Around 30 percent of residents living in rural Illinois lack internet access at speeds of 25 megabytes-per-second and above, according to a report from the Federal Communications Commission.
Illinois’ map is going to include information from both customers and Internet Service Providers in the state. The information on the map will be based on service areas rather than census blocks. Federal maps are currently constructed based on the census blocks. Illinois’ congressional delegation asked the Federal Communications Commission for specific changes to its process last summer. The problem in the FCC’s information is that if access is available to one home in the census block, that area is considered served, according to the NPR report. The congressional delegation said the current process can keep small internet companies or cooperatives from qualifying for needed money to build infrastructure and serve more rural customers.
The first round of grant funding to update infrastructure is expected to be issued early this year.