Report Cites Broadband as Major Issue for Rural Illinois

Lt. Governor Shelia SimonSPRINGFIELD – September 7, 2012. Broadband infrastructure, access, and cost of service are top priorities for rural Illinois communities, according to a report published by Lt. Governor Shelia Simon’s office and the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs.

The report draws on a series of Rural Listening Posts hosted by Lt. Governor Simon in Quincy, Peoria, Carbondale, Gibson City, Mattoon, and Freeport. Broadband infrastructure was named as the “top infrastructure-related issue” in four of six communities listed and “cost of service” was listed as the most significant barrier to widespread internet adoption in five of six communities.

“Connecting rural Illinois with affordable, high-speed internet will increase educational opportunities, improve healthcare and expand the capabilities of our workforce,” Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said. “Through our Rural Listening Posts, we know that connectivity is a top priority for our rural neighbors, and we look forward to making affordable technology a reality.”

Residents, businesses, and institutions will be able to collaborate, increase efficiency, and control costs though high-speed internet access, according to the report.

 “Along with increased access, attendees identified a need for training and models on how to best exploit high speed internet as a tool for economic development.”  

The role of broadband in rural healthcare and telehealth was also a top concern. Better infrastructure is needed to transmit electronic medical records and connect patients to the highest quality of care.

“Traditional methods of delivering health care are more challenging in rural areas and technology offers many opportunities for providing access to specialists, preventive care, and educational services,” said the report.

Affordable access to applications such as Smart Grid technology, distance learning, e-commerce and e-government were also cited as potential solutions to many problems facing rural areas.

To download the full report, click here.

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Tags: data, economic development, report, rural broadband, rural Illinois, rural listening posts, Shelia Simon, Telehealth

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