Internet Extension in 2012 & 150th Anniversary of the Morrill Act: Connecting Residents and Businesses to Fiber and Wireless

A, B, C’s of Building Broadband Internet Partnerships for Jobs, Economic Productivity and Reduction government costs 

On July 2, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act granting each state 30,000 acres of Federal land to endow a state university and A & M (agricultural and mechanic arts) institution, laying the base for each state’s research and teaching engine for America’s modern economy.  In 1890 the 2nd Morrill Act provided Federal funding for university community service Extension services, laying the basis for county fairs and 4-H clubs at the turn of the 20th Century to help get goods to market, and extending electricity and telephones to rural America in 1930’s and following decades.  With Illinois educational institutions present at the creation of supercomputing tools and the launch of the Internet in the 1990’s, Illinois Extension – and Illinois network of 48 community colleges and university-backboned Illinois Century Network -- has been at the forefront of bringing high speed Internet and online telecommunication and telemedicine tools to the 102 counties of Illinois.   Illinois has set a goal of rapidly increasing Internet use from today’s 65-75 percent for residents and businesses to 90-95 percent over the next three years to match the Internet usage levels TODAY of our Asian and European competitors.

 In Fall 2011, the Federal Communications Commission launched a multi-billion dollar per year telephone tax-supported effort to bring broadband, or high-speed, Internet to every rural and urban street.  The Connecting America campaign recognizes that broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity for all residents, businesses, community institutions and public agencies.   It cites economic benefits for every business in getting goods and services to market and makes clear that students with Internet at home have up to an 8 percent better record of completing high school. 

With this in mind, the October 2011 Regional Broadband Summit at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Center for Supercomputing Applications brought together an Illinois General Assembly panel with roots in higher education technology and championing urban & rural strategies to eliminate digital divides between those with affordable high speed Internet and those without.   Thus, in Fall 2011 resolutions were introduced in Illinois legislature to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant act and to highlight the role of Internet extension as the vital necessity for every neighborhood, town and economic crossroads of the state.    See Illinois House Resolution 581 introduced by Reps. Karen May and Constance Howard,  and Senate Resolution 435 introduced by Sen. Michael Frerichs.

For University of Illinois, there will be faculty, student and community activities and exhibitions, including in Fall 2012 homecoming events on the mall at UIUC.  During the last week of June and the first week of July UIUC has been asked by Association of Public and Land-grant Universities  to prepare a national exhibition on inventions and services to meet the needs of disabled persons.   This will be on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. as part of the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival with 2012 Campus and Community theme. 

Stay tuned in 2012 for Partnership for a Connected Illinois work with university and community college networks on high performance broadband programs in their surrounding communities.

Best for 2012!

So, how does Broadband Internet extension work?

 1) Through spreading awareness about the of daily use and availability of broadband. 

2) Thru broadband outreach to new users 

3) Through building Digital Skills and preparations for Digital Age jobs 

  • See National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) 21st Century Skills Center at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) September 10-15 in McCormick Place, Chicago. Free for students and educators. Connect with or

The 150th Morrill Act logo was created by Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

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