Illinois wins $253.7 million in federal funding to boost internet access in underserved areas

The Biden White House, Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth along with Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday that $257.3 million in federal money will be sent to Illinois to boost broadband infrastructure development where it is lacking across the state.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the affordability and availability of the Internet and the need to make it as popular as other utilities, such as electricity and water.

During the pandemic, the issue of digital inequality in rural Illinois and parts of the Chicago area with large low-income populations has become even more significant as much of everyday activity is conducted online,

The $257.3 million in federal money — which is part of the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund — will connect 87,613 homes and businesses, according to the state, which will cover about 25% of areas in Illinois that don’t have access to high-speed internet.

“You can still come across people who remember their grandparents telling the story about the arrival of electricity on the American farm in the 1930s,” Durbin said.

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And President Franklin D. Roosevelt realized that without electricity, farmers and rural people would not have a chance to be part of the economy of the twentieth century. They brought electricity to farms and created modern agriculture in the process. Now you see the same young people telling the story of their grandparents.

They struggle to understand why they cannot access the Internet. They realize that it is important for their education. It is crucial to maintaining business and attracting new companies. This is why the American Rescue Plan is a plan to create jobs and businesses and to give children a fighting chance to be competitive” in the global economy.

Durbin spoke on a Zoom call with the governor, Duckworth, White House American Rescue Plan coordinator Jane Sperling and others.

The money flows directly to the state of Illinois through the Treasury Department, which has approved the state’s application for a broadband grant. The Connect Illinois Broadband grant, the department said, “will prioritize projects that demonstrate community support, deploy fiber optic infrastructure, and provide affordable service.”

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“This funding will assist governments with critical capital projects, including reliable broadband infrastructure and other means of Digital Communication Technology Projects.”

Many low-income families may be eligible for online discounts of up to $30 per month. The Biden administration has secured pledges from 20 internet providers to provide high-speed service for as little as $30 a month. To find out if you qualify for this break—and to sign up for it if you do—check out www.affordableconnectivity.gov.

my knowledge: The Pritzker administration has been working on issues of broadband equality, access, and affordability for several years, starting before the pandemic. Pritzker’s capital plan, Rebuild Illinois, included $420 million to improve broadband infrastructure.

Pritzker said on the call that the state “has long recognized the need for public sector leadership and broadband expansion, even before the pandemic revealed the true scale and consequences of the digital divide.”

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“…together. Federal and state investments will allow us to expand broadband access to every corner of our state,” Pritzker said.

Under state programs, “tens of thousands” of homes and businesses in the state have already got connections, Pritzker said.

When asked how long it would take the new federal dollars to help Chicago — in addition to what the state is already doing — the governor said it could take up to a year “to roll out the fiber or find the best, fastest internet connection to get to the area and then actually put those dollars to work. So.” I would say it could take a year for the federal dollars that we see today to get to those communities in Chicago, but it’s not because there isn’t really progress at the state level. Very useful “.



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