Thanks to timely public and private investments, the digital divide
is slowly shrinking in Illinois. As part of the federal stimulus program, Congress allocated $7.2 billion in grants to fund broadband Internet projects nationwide. Illinois has benefited greatly, taking in almost $250 million in infrastructure and adoption dollars. Just this past week, Gov. Pat Quinn unveiled four of those projects, which his administration says will create
600 jobs and connect 1,000 institutions like schools and hospitals to
the information superhighway. The state and private companies are
getting involved, as well. Lawmakers in Springfield earmarked
$50 million in funds from last year's capital construction plan to
support broadband projects while communications
companies like Frontier are expanding their own service.
there's lots of work to do if Illinois wants to achieve universal
broadband access. Statewide, roughly 35 to 40 percent of residents
still don't have broadband in their homes, either because it's too
expensive or not available locally. As Connect Illinois' interactive map
shows, there are huge access disparities in rural and low-income urban
neighborhoods. Even if someone in those towns can get online,
Internet-access speed is also considerably slower.
In June, the Pew Center on the States released a report examining "the
challenging steps states must take to improve broadband access." Check
it out here.