A new program will help communities determine how they want to spend incoming broadband investments.
Communities in Illinois currently have plenty of funds for capital investment and more to come. The Accelerate Illinois Broadband Infrastructure Planning Program recently announced by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities (DCEO) aims to help them sort through decisions.
DCEO Office of Broadband Director Matt Schmit says there is no county in Lincoln Land where broadband investment is not warranted.
“We think broadband is a great use of those dollars, but we also recognize that not all communities are equal when it comes to using those dollars, forging public / public partnerships. private and take the next steps, ”he said.
Schmit says this program will help ensure that all communities have equitable access to inbound infrastructure funding.
“Accelerate Illinois is uniquely designed to help communities think about their vision and next steps by engaging with vendors in the region and maximizing dollars,” he said.
Basically, the state offers a crash course in broadband investing through at least 30 hours of expert consultation, Schmit said.
“Ultimately, the community will have a much better understanding of where they stand in terms of broadband needs, where they want to go and what specific actions they can take from both a funding and a partnership perspective. once again. to make this vision a reality, ”he said.
The type of Internet connection set up depends on the community, according to Schmit.
“The focus on fiber optics and building wired connectivity is a priority, but we also recognize that it’s not necessarily the ideal fit for every community in Illinois,” he said. .
The goal is to strike the right balance between federal funders and local leaders and the needs of the community, Schmit said.
“The point is, if you don’t have the connectivity, those kinds of uses aren’t enabled: telehealth, distance learning, remote working, advancements in agriculture like precision farming – you absolutely need connectivity, ”he said. “We can talk a lot about the number and the households that are not being served in Illinois, but at the end of the day it’s really about ‘Are you able to use broadband for these incredibly important applications? , And in far too many Illinois households, you just aren’t able to do it today.