Illinois announces southern Illinois gigabit internet project


Carbondale, Illinois is set to become the fourth Gig City in the state. Governor Pat Quinn said the state will invest $1.5 million to build an ultra high speed broadband network in Southern Illinois. The expansion project will be a partnership between broadband service provider Frontier North, Inc., the city of Carbondale, Southern Illinois University and local broadband task force Connect SI.

Illinois launched its Gigabit Communities Challenge last year, and has so far made award to three other cities. The challenge is supported by the Governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. The Challenge seeks proposals from private and public organizations to encourage promising ultra high-speed broadband deployment projects throughout Illinois. Each project must connect at least 1,000 end users to Gigabit broadband speeds.

The $1.5 million investment – will provide funding for Frontier to build a high-speed fiber optic network to Carbondale’s businesses, schools, hospitals and neighborhoods. Gigabit broadband is up to 100 times faster than speeds currently available in the region, and the state hopes that providing this infrastructure, the local economy and university will be able to expand and improve.

Capabilities for telemedicine and telehealth through the University’s School of Medicine will also impact citizens in underserved areas in Southern Illinois and allow for faster transmission of medical records and vital information.

A complementary project is also underway in the area, Clearwave Communications, a Harrisburg was the lead company on a project that used $11.3 million in state funds, as well as federal and private dollars, to install 751 miles of fiber in 23 counties connecting 232 community anchor institutions.

The Illinois project is one of the few state-backed projects in the country focused on expanding gigabit internet. Other states have struggled with even bringing broadband access of any sort to residents, leaving some small towns to set the lowest possible bar for acceptable service.

Governor Quinn has invested more than $71 million in broadband infrastructure throughout the state as part of his Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. This investment has leveraged more than $214 million in additional funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Through these projects, more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable has been installed, with more to come.

“Ultra high-speed internet access is a key to success for the future of Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “In order to remain competitive in today’s digital society, Illinois must have broadband infrastructure second to none.”