Officials in Illinois have the good problem of trying figure out how to spend more than $ 351 million in federal, state and private funds in order to fully build out broadband coverage throughout the state. Many of these officials came together recently in one meeting to celebrate and figure out their next move. Over the last decade, many of these same officials have been working tirelessly to advance broadband, but now that their work has gotten an extra monetary boost, the work can go much further.
One of those steps that had been taken over the last several years was the creation of the Illinois Broadband Deployment Council. This council came up with several initiatives including the Connect Southern Illinois Collaborative which supported broadband expansion in 20 counties. Another initiative was the Illinois Main Street Program which supported the creation of wireless networks throughout the state.
Currently work is being done on how to divide the millions of dollars in order to make sure that the money is being spent wisely. For example some of the money is already earmarked for the University of Illinois UC2B fiber to home build. This one project alone is getting $ 23 million. Another $ 12 million is headed to DeKalb County for help with their infrastructure build out for more broadband services. The city of Chicago is set to receive $ 7 million for “smart cities” and another $ 9 million for public computing centers.
Another company that is working to expand broadband services throughout the state of Illinois is AT&T. The investment comes in the wake of an update to a 25-year-old telecommunications law that will help attract money being funneled into new technologies. AT&T is also working with lawmakers in order to support a national broadband expansion that will allow fast internet access to all Americans by the year 2014. This follows with President Obama’s hope that 98% of Americans will have access to broadband services within the next five years.
As work continues to build out broadband services throughout the state of Illinois, officials see this progress as the key to economic stability as well as advancements in the classroom and medical field. This money is also vital to so called “anchor institutions” such as libraries and schools. The funds will allow for those without home computers to better be able to get online at places such as libraries and other community centers. This will allow for greater education and in turn a stronger workforce as the public will be able to find jobs a little easier. Broadband service is also vital to education as it will allow students to learn about regions and topics that they have never had access to before.
Illinois is, of course, just one of many states in the union to benefit from the federal recovery act and put to use millions of dollars toward broadband expansion. So far, several billion dollars have been spent on broadband construction projects in more than 30 states and one Unites States’ territory.
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