Better Broadband & Better Lives

Tag archive

Glenn Poshard

Expert Opinion: Building the Gigabit State in Southern Illinois

in Broadband Stimulus/Education/Expert Opinion/Health by

CARBONDALE, Illinois, June 2, 2011 – Boiled down to its bare essentials, a major research university like Southern Illinois University here needs three things to prosper: good students, great faculty, and world-class internet bandwidth.

The only major research university in the southern half of Illinois, SIU has the first two out of three. But according to John Koropchak, a professor of chemistry and Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Dean at the university, the availability of bandwidth for SIU maxes out at 380 Megabits per second (Mbps).

Guidelines by the National Science Foundation call for bandwidth availability to be 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) to 2.5 Gbps. That’s up to seven times the bandwidth currently available.

Fortunately for SIU, greater bandwidth is coming to the Southern Illinois region, and throughout Illinois.

Today, June 2, 2011, beginning at 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT, the Illinois Broadband Summit will convene here to address these bandwidth needs – and to plan broadband’s impact for the economic, educational and health care needs of the State. Video streaming of this significant event, which includes both a morning and an afternoon component, is available for FREE at

The Illinois Broadband Deployment Council

As part of the broadband stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, about $244 million in federal funds are flowing into the State from the U.S. Departments of Commerce (through NTIA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. Coupled with private sector and State investments, about $353 million in funds is coming to Illinois. For more information, see

One the advantages that Illinois experienced in this national competition for federal stimulus dollars was the ground-laying work of Governor Pat Quinn’s Broadband Deployment Council. The council began in the middle of the last decade as a way to assemble, mobilize and promote a range of broadband initiatives. It is now seeing a flowering of possibilities with broadband investments.

At 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT, the first half of the Illinois Broadband Summit will begin with a Broadband Deployment Council Meeting.

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, who hails from Carbondale, will offer video greetings. Under the theme of “Educational Advancement Made Possible by Broadband,” she will be followed by State Schools Superintendant Christopher Koch, who will discuss broadband’s role and impact upon distance learning.

Telemedicine and higher education will be discussed at 12 noon ET/11 a.m. CT, on a panel that includes Dr. Koropchak discussing SIU’s bandwidth needs, and others.

Fiberizing the Illinois Coal Belt

To Glenn Poshard, the President of SIU, the new broadband stimulus projects will bring water to a desert – and could be culmination of a longtime vision for incentivizing faster internet availability and broadband use in the region.

Dr. Poshard will lay out some of this quest near the beginning of the afternoon session at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT. He has been tireless in seeking ways to bring stakeholders together. In the early days, many economic development efforts sought a future for a changed regional economy. It was one in which the former stable of coal production had been severely diminished.

SIU was then instrumental in the formation of ConnectSI, an economic development organization focused on internet access in the lower 20 counties of the State. This project in turn bequeathed the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, which also recognized by the name of its web site, or PCI is now the State Broadband Initiative entity for Illinois. Kathy Lively, Executive Director of ConnectSI, and Vice Chairman of PCI, will recount her role in this process at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT.

Responding to the Gigabit Challenge

Among the most significant broadband investments coming to Illinois right now are those of Clearwave Communication,, and Shawnee Telephone, at

Clearwave project is a $45.4 million dollar comprehensive project installing 740.4 miles of 96 count fiber optic cable providing network coverage in 23 counties in Southern Illinois.  Of these counties, 20 of them are considered economically distressed, with smaller populations ranging from 1,000 to 20,000.  The Clearwave project will directly connect 232 community anchor institutions, including 111 K-12 schools, 9 community colleges, 60 hospitals and health care facilities, 28 Public Service Facilities, 23 libraries – and Southern Illinois University.

Shawnee Telephone Project is an $8.4 million dollar last mile project, also in Southern Illinois. As with Clearwave, Shawnee is a private company. It will provide fiber broadband access to over 2,100 households, 420 businesses and 27 anchor institutions. Currently, in Shawnee’s project area, no households in the region have access to broadband service at speeds better than 5Mbps – and 40 percent of the households don’t have broadband at all. This fiber-to-home network will blow those speeds out to 100 Mbps.

Representatives from Clearwave and Shawnee will discuss their projects – and their fast pace of deploying fiber investments – during the afternoon portion of the program. The afternoon is built around the theme of positing Illinois communities for success, and showing a model for rural regions around the country.

But as successful at Clearwave and Shawnee appear to be on track to being, these two broadband providers won’t be enough to satiate desert-like broadband conditions throughout the State, and our nation.

In fact, under the vision for connecting community anchor institutions articulated by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling of NTIA, even basic anchor tenants like public libraries and K-12 schools need at least 1 Gbps to chart an effective future course.

In the afternoon portion of today’s program, Graham Richard, who was instrumental in bringing private-sector fiber investment to Fort Wayne, will offer a challenge to all of us.

To get where we need to be as a State and a nation, we need to think as a gigabit state and gigabit nation. How are we going to get there? To find out, tune it to at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT.

This Expert Opinion originally appeared on Broadband Illinois, at “On Broadband” is the column written by Drew Clark, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois.

Partnership for a Connected Illinois Announces Drew Clark as Executive Director; Founder of to Lead State Broadband Data and Deployment Effort

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus/States by

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, and WASHINGTON, February 25, 2010 – The Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a non-profit organization that includes partnerships with Southern Illinois University, Man-Tra-Con, and Connected Nation, on Thursday announced Drew Clark as its new Executive Director.

On Wednesday, PCI also unveiled BroadbandStat, a new interactive mapping tool for viewing and analyzing broadband data.

Clark, the founder of and an experienced, independent telecom industry analyst, brings a unique public interest perspective to broadband data collection, which is vital to the effective deployment of high-speed internet networks throughout the United States.

“I’m glad that our team of broadband experts is moving forward to help achieve the ambitious vision for a public, transparent map of technology infrastructure that President Obama and I share,” said Governor Pat Quinn. A long-time advocate of improving broadband access in Illinois, Governor Quinn has worked with public and private partners over many years to ensure connectivity in all areas.

As the state’s designated entity to perform broadband mapping, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois (PCI) recently received $1.8 million in funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for broadband data collection, mapping and planning activities. In 2009, led by Southern Illinois University, PCI received a start-up grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

“The Partnership for a Connected Illinois is a direct outgrowth of the highly successful endeavor in southern Illinois to use broadband deployment as the foundation to a broader economic development strategy,” said Dr. Glenn Poshard, President of Southern Illinois University.

“This undertaking has been an all-in commitment by the region’s leaders in health care, education and business, working together to unleash the job creation potential of high speed Internet access,” he said. “We have every expectation that the accomplishments achieved by this unique public-private partnership in southern Illinois can be recreated throughout the state. Southern Illinois University welcomes Mr. Clark on board and we look forward to participating in this exciting phase of the project.”

Clark will be based in Springfield, Illinois, and will work throughout the state to ensure every community in Illinois is connected to world-class, high-speed information and communication networks. The broadband mapping efforts to be undertaken by PCI will help identify and drive both broadband supply and demand.

“The enthusiasm for broadband is palpable in Illinois,” said Clark. “The Partnership for a Connected Illinois has the opportunity to lead the nation by building a common-sense approach to data collection and deployment that maximizes broadband’s benefit for citizens, business, schools, libraries and health care providers.”

BroadbandStat is a user-friendly, web-based tool for local leaders, policymakers, consumers and technology providers to plan for the expansion and adoption of broadband. On Wednesday, Connected Nation hosted a webinar introducing BroadbandStat to all interested parties, free of charge.

“We are extremely pleased with the selection of Drew Clark as the Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois,” said Ron Duncan, President of the Board of Directors of PCI. “He has a unique set of experiences and capabilities that make him extremely well suited for this leadership role.”

Continuing Work of Broadband Census LLC

Clark founded Broadband Census LLC in December 2007 as a means of providing the public with an objective and independent measure of broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition. Both the data and journalistic activities of Broadband Census LLC will continue.

As, Broadband Census News publishes reports on broadband stimulus, wireless broadband, and the national broadband plan. Heading up the editorial team at is Sharon McLoone.

McLoone has been a journalist for 20 years, with most of her work focusing on technology, business and politics. Her work has appeared in CNN Money, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Science, as well as smaller, more specialized publications. Just prior to beginning with, She worked as a business reporter at and as an editor at a National Journal publication covering politics and policy of interest to the high-tech and media communities.

Also assuming a leadership role at the company is Sylvia Syracuse, Director of Marketing and Sponsorship. Syracuse manages the Broadband Breakfast Club, the popular Washington discussion group that now meets on the third Tuesday of each month at Clyde’s of Gallery Place in Washington.

Syracuse has had a long career in non-profit development and administration, and has raised funds for technology and science education, and managed a project on health information exchange by the State of New York. Her experience in community education and development also allows her to understand the community needs and infrastructure required to make broadband access effective.

On the data side, Broadband Census Data conducts independent validation at the Census block level (or smaller, if desired) of carrier-submitted broadband data. The broadband availability maps created by use no fewer than two and as many as five independent sources for validation.

Sources include: wireline footprints from publicly-citable sources, wireless footprints from radio-frequency propagation tools, carrier data, market survey data, and user-generated data. Various lists are used to validate data for speed, price, availability, technology and provider information to specific areas.

Working in collaboration with our partner Brian Webster Consulting, can perform an inclusive broadband availability study and prepare broadband availability coverage maps that can be released under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License. The data is provided in all the popular GIS file formats.

Current broadband availability maps include wireless and wireline provider (cable and telco) footprints. Members of our team conducted the data and mapping services used to complete the grant application process for American Recovery and Reinventment Act Round 1 grant winners Rivada Sea Lion in Alaska, and the North Florida Broadband Authority.

In addition to maps, the data can be used to show and tabulate the availability, speed and adoption for specific areas. This is provided in electronic report form. This information can be used to support Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and Broadband Infrastructure Program applications.

Go to Top