Broadband is about more than wires and fiber, it’s about connecting people to better lives though better opportunities. Observers have long recognized that we must address the needs of those who have not yet migrated to the digital age—If we are not careful, they will be the digital have-nots. While 97 percent of Americans have access to telephone service, adoption of broadband remains at 69 percent. Illinois has kept exactly in line with this nationwide rate, but that means we still fall behind 23 other states.
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan identifies three key problems facing those who have not adopted high-speed internet: cost, digital literacy and relevance. We aim to address this by being on the ground each day…collaborating with stakeholders, spreading the broadband message, and working to get access to those most in need. A recent example is the FCC’s Broadband Lifeline Pilot. We are busy working on this program right now and applications are due July 2.
The concept of the Broadband Lifeline Pilot is to provide low-income Americans access to reduced-cost internet service, computers and training. Broadband is increasingly a necessity and will serve as a true “lifeline” to those who are seeking jobs, education and health care. This 18-month pilot program will study the effects of providing broadband and lay the foundation for future Broadband Lifeline funding. This will happen as the Universal Service Fund transitions from a means for telephone service to a Universal Broadband Fund.
We are working closely with a number of Eligible Telecommunications Carriers and technology training groups throughout Illinois. We’ve facilitated two sessions
and are convening all interested parties to ensure that our state has the best chance to be the testbed- and to evaluate the results- for enhancing broadband, particularly in rural areas.
If you are interested in this program, click here to learn more and contact Anne Madonia
or Lacey Buss