New Report Highlights Broadband Utilization in Illinois Regions, Industry Sectors

Survey: Community Anchor Institutions, Libraries Provide Consistent High-Speed Access and Training

SNGSPRINGFIELD, Illinois, April 15, 2013 – Regional differences in broadband usage prevail in Illinois commercial businesses and public organizations, and public libraries are filling the gap by providing Wi-Fi access and one-on-one digital literacy trainings, according to a new report released by Broadband Illinois.

Available for download below, the “Broadband Illinois eSolutions Benchmarking Report 2013” provides qualitative and quantitative measurements of the socio-economic impact of high-speed internet access on communities and regions across Illinois. In addition, the Digital Economy Index (DEi) shows how uses of online tools vary between commercial businesses and public organizations in 10 regional eTeams.  The report also contains a sector analysis with broadband data for six types of community anchor institutions, as well as farms.

Comparisons between regional eTeams were formed though a Digital Economy Index (DEi) ranking. The index reflects an organization’s use of 17 different internet applications and processes, including everything from selling goods and services online to telework. The DEi can be used to compare organizations, regions or industry sectors. Scores can range from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible use of internet applications. The average business or organization in Illinois has a DEi score of 6.47, meaning about 6.5 activities are utilized.

"A detailed look at how businesses and other organizations use broadband is essential to developing strategies to help the internet contribute to productivity,” said John Horrigan, Research Director at Broadband Illinois and Vice President and Director at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “The Strategic Network Group’s analysis provides insight for different kinds of businesses & organizations in different regions to help Illinois get the most out of high-speed connectivity." 

Regionally, Chicagoland businesses lead the way in high-speed internet use with a 6.71 DEi score. eTeam regions in Southern and Western Illinois lag behind with scores from 5.96 in Southeast Central to 6.05 in West Central.

“The report shows an opportunity to increase high-speed internet utilization in the regions that need it the most,” said Drew Clark, Executive Director at Broadband Illinois. “Through our broadband lifeline program, residents in Southern and Western Illinois will have access to reduced-cost computers and low-cost internet service. We hope this program will be a catalyst for economic growth and job creation.”

Index scores also varied by size of a business or organization. Smaller organizations with 0-19 employees had an average DEi score of 6.25, organizations with 50-99 employees scored a 7.06 and organizations with 100 or more employees had the highest score of 7.23.

Sector Analysis:

Six types of community anchor institutions (CAIs) are included in the sector analysis. Farms were also included. CAIs were asked if they provided public access to the internet and asked specific questions regarding internet uses particular to their area. Nearly all of the CAIs surveyed provide computer terminal access to customers and 30 percent provide some form of public access to the internet. About half offer training on how to use the internet.

Libraries play an active and consistent role in providing the public with access to high-speed internet, digital literacy training and access to government services offered online. Of the 247 libraries surveyed, 63 percent said they provide one-on-one training, 49 percent provide formal classes, 95 percent provide public Wi-Fi and 75 percent assist patrons to access government services. Public demand for these services is increasing, with 70 percent of libraries citing an increase in the use of their Wi-Fi networks in the past year.

As a whole, Illinois farms received an average 6.27 DEi score, below the 6.47 average. At the same time, 69 percent of farmers said the internet is very important for timely access to information. A majority of Illinois farmers surveyed also said the internet improves productivity and helps reduce operating costs. Information on weather and pricing were cited as important uses of high-speed internet for the farm sector.

K-12 schools scored a 6.27 DEi, also below the 6.47 average. Key differences in internet utilization occurred between schools in metropolitan (5.97 DEi) and non-metropolitan areas (6.39 DEi). Importantly, differences are not in educational uses but in how schools are using the Internet for marketing and recruiting students.

Full information on each sector, including public internet access sites, health, education, local government, economic development agencies, libraries and farms, can be found in section 5 of the “Broadband Illinois eSolutions Benchmarking Report 2013.”

Broadband Illinois is highlighting this new research throughout the month of April. Last Monday’s article focused on the business and economic development section of the report, available at

Digital Economy Analytics Platform (DEAP):

The “Broadband Illinois eSolutions Benchmarking Report 2013” survey collected data on the utilization of the internet by businesses, organizations and households. Full data sets are available online through the Digital Economy Analytics Platform (DEAP). Broadband Illinois stakeholders, including regional eTeams, have access to the DEAP platform.

Visit and register for the upcoming May 13 webinar to learn more about the DEAP platform.

For more information on the survey, contact eTeam leader Clayton Black at 217-886-4029.

The full reports are available for download below.

Download the "Broadband Illinois eSolutions Benchmarking Report" here. 

Download the "Broadband Illinois eStrategy Report" here. 


Community Anchor Institutions Survey Fact Sheet:

  • A total of 7,253 organizations were surveyed. The organizations consisted of 4,620 commercial businesses, 1,497 government entities and 1,136 non-for-profits.
  • Strategic Networks Group, an organization of “broadband economists” collected data through two web-based surveys in 2012.
  • The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs engaged in outreach efforts for the survey.
  • The average DEi score for Illinois was 6.47.
  • Chicagoland had the highest average DEi score (6.71) and Southeast Central had the lowest DEi score (5.96).
  • The information sector had the highest average DEi score (6.84) while government/public administration had the lowest average DEi score (5.38).
  • 2,278 community anchor institutions were surveyed. Of these, 684 (30%) provide some form of public internet access. The most common types of access include public internet terminals (98.2%) and public access Wi-Fi (70.5%). More than 50% of these organizations also provide internet training.
  • Libraries represent the most consistent public internet service during evenings and weekends. 

About Strategic Networks Group: SNG is a group of broadband economists who develop strategies for most effectively leveraging broadband investments. SNG looks to help make the most broad-reaching and transformational impacts that broadband can bring enable businesses, communities and regions by delivering the data and analysis decision makers need to maximize broadband’s potential.   SNG’s goals: economic development, social advancement, increased productivity and competiveness. Learn more about SNG online at and discover how broadband market analytics can accelerate regional economic development.


Tags: Clayton Black, DEAP, Digital Economy Index, Drew Clark, economic development, eTeams, event, internet adoption, Internet usage, John Horrigan, open data, regions, research, SNG, Strategic Networks Group, survey, webinar

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