Broadband Census Illinois
This is the eleventh of a series of articles surveying the state of broadband, and broadband data, within each of the United States. Among the next profiles: Nevada, Missouri and Utah.
September 3 - In describing efforts to improve broadband in Illinois, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn uses this analogy: “We have to be the modern-day, 21st century Johnny Appleseeds, planting good technology projects all over the state.”
Quinn already has a team full of “Johnny Appleseeds” working across Illinois as a part of his and Governor Rod Blagojevich’s Broadband Deployment Council. Under the 2007 Illinois High Speed Internet Services and Information Technology Act, SB0766 -- which established the council -- these seeds will ensure “that all state residents and business will have access to affordable and reliable high speed Internet services.”
Broadband investment and policy engagement have been hallmarks of the Blagojevich administration since it first established its “Eliminate the Digital Divide” initiative. It used funds received as part of the state’s settlement of the SBC/Ameritech merger. Their goal has been to expand internet connectivity in the most underserved parts of the state.
Efforts like this have been expanded and supplemented by investments in telecommunications infrastructure by municipal governments, public private partners, and universities. Today, the primary goal of Quinn’s Broadband Deployment Council is to coordinate and support the seemingly endless efforts by various stakeholders in Illinois.
Council participant Alan Kraus, executive director of the Broadband Development Group of the Regional Development Institute at Northern Illinois University, remarked that “the Broadband Deployment Council has been a tremendous asset in bringing everyone together. In Illinois, there’s both a top-down effort to improve broadband led by the council and a bottom-up, grass roots effort lead by municipalities, public private partnerships and organizations like the universities.”
Those efforts include a recent success for the Illinois Rural Health Net (IRHN) initiative, a plan to build high-speed fiber internet infrastructure designed to serve rural hospitals and support telemedicine “visits” with experts and specialists in other parts of the state. It was recently awarded a $21 million grant from the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Health Care Pilot Program.
Meanwhile, the Broadband Deployment Council itself is working to creating a non-profit entity to utilize at least $4 million in funding currently available for state investments in digital infrastructure.
Another item on Illinois’ broadband agenda is the need to “assess and catalog the telecom infrastructure of the state,” as dictated by SB0766. Groups like Connect Southern Illinois, the Illinois Century Network, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity are working to collect data on broadband infrastructure in the state. Still, Illinois still lacks a comprehensive broadband map that reflects connectivity and costs on the household level.
While efforts to map current broadband infrastructure continue in Illinois, Alan Kraus is confident that the state has already achieved much through its broadband initiatives.
“Both Governor Blagojevich and Lt. Gov. Quinn are committed to ensuring that broadband technology is deployed within the state and Illinois could be a model for the country in terms of how you want to move things in terms of broadband at the state level,” said Kraus.
Broadband Census in the States:
- 1. In Massachusetts, Governor to Sign $40 Million Broadband Bill Aimed at Spurring Investment
- 2. Task Force to Debate Whether A Gigabit Per Second is Too Fast for Minnesota
- 3. Relaunched Oklahoma City Wi-Fi Network Showcases City-Services Model
- 4. New York City and State Each Craft Broadband Policies; City Nixes Muni Wi-Fi
- 5. With Large Underserved Areas, Idaho Seeks to Establish Statewide Educational Network
- 6. Hawaii Broadband Task Force Aims to Tackle Problems of Speed, Competition
- 7. Modern-Day Alaskan Broadband Benefits from Satellite Earth Station Competition
- 8. First in Broadband Mapping, North Carolina’s e-NC Now Wants Faster Speeds
- 9. Colorado Innovation Council Seeks to Make Good on State’s Promise of Better Broadband
- 10. New Mexico Infrastructure Report Fails to Incorporate Broadband Access
- 11. Illinois Plants ‘Johnny Appleseed’ Projects Promoting Broadband in State
Broadband Census Resources:
- The Illinois Broadband Wiki: The user-generated information center is the most comprehensive website detailing all the local and state-wide efforts to improve broadband in Illinois.
- Governor Blagojevich's 2005 Executive Order establishing the Broadband Deployment Council [PDF].
- Northern Illinois University's Broadband Development Group: This Alan Kraus' group within the Regional Development Institute.
- The High Speed Internet Services and Information Technology Act: Full text of SB0766, 2007.
- Public Meeting Minutes for the Illinois Broadband Deployment Council: From Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn's website, standingupforillinois.org. The Lieutenant Governor's statement that leads off this article was recorded during the March 6, 2008 meeting.
- The Illinois Century Network: One of the organizations seeking to better map broadband infrastructure in the state.
- Press Release: Illinois Rural Health Network Receives $21 Million Grant from the FCC [PDF].
- ConnectSI: A regional initiative aimed at facilitating and supporting public private partnerships that improve broadband connectivity in Southern Illinois.