Gov. Quinn Awards $1.5 Million to Carbondale Area as Part of Gigabit Communities Challenge

Gov. Pat Quinn announced on Friday that the Carbondale area will receive a $1.5 million
boost to build an ultra high-speed broadband infrastructure.

The plan, which will partner Frontier Communications, the City of Carbondale, Southern Illinois University and Connect SI to build a gigabit network, is part of Quinn’s Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge. 

The program will divvy a total of $6 million to the most promising ultra high-speed broadband deployment projects in Illinois as part of the comprehensive, multi-year Illinois Jobs Now! economic development program.

“We don’t want southern Illinois, or any other part of Illinois to fall behind when it comes to access to high-speed internet,” Quinn said during Friday’s press conference at the SIU’s aviation education facility in Murphysboro. “It’s super important for our jobs, for our economy. It’s super important for our healthcare and telemedicine. It’s very, very important for our law enforcement, for our education.”

The grant aims to provide funding for Frontier Communications to build a high-speed fiber optic network to Carbondale’s businesses, schools, hospitals and neighborhoods.

Eric Shadley, general manager for Frontier Communications, said his company is extremely grateful for the opportunity.

“The gigabit program is a fine example of bringing together the private and public sectors to make a good community a great community,” he said. “This will not be a network that only connects Carbondale to the world but, in fact, will be the envy of the world.”

Kathy Lively, executive director of ConnectSI, credited Steven Mitchell with taking a leadership role in pursuing the award.

Mitchell, who serves on ConnectSI’s leadership team and is Partnership for a Connected Illinois’ eTeam leader for the southern region, said the fiber build is extremely important to the Carbondale area.

"Collaboration between the City of Carbondale, Southern Illinois University, Frontier Communications, ConnectSI and the Partnership for a Connected Illinois (PCI), along with support from the Governor's office, made this opportunity possible and it is exactly those kinds of partnerships that will continue to make Southern Illinois a more vibrant and vital place to live, work, shop and play,” he said.

Brad Housewright, interim executive director for PCI, added that as a resident of southern Illinois, he sees the need for ultra high-speed expansion on a daily basis.

“Southern Illinois has a long history as a leader in broadband,” he said. “Through the efforts of ConnectSI, Frontier and stakeholders from business and industry, we’re excited to build a public-private partnership around this initiative.”

As part of the Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge, Quinn has previously awarded $2 million to jumpstart fiber optic and wireless networks in mid-south Chicago neighborhoods, and $1 million each to help develop fiber optic networks in Aurora and Evanston.

Tags: Carbondale, ConnectSI, Frontier Communications, illinois gigabit communities challenge, Pat Quinn, Southern Illinois University

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