Connect Illinois To Launch $420 Million Broadband Expansion Initiative


Illinois is launching a statewide initiative to expand broadband. The state has allocated $420 million through the Rebuild Illinois capital plan and has appointed a 25 member advisory council to oversee the effort.

Created through Public Act 100-833, the Broadband Advisory Council will create and present a statewide broadband strategic plan that identifies opportunities to serve all Illinoisans – with a focus on students, seniors, low-income households, rural communities and small businesses. The council will also examine best practices in other states and explore ways to maximize federal funding on top of the historic state investments in Rebuild Illinois.

Recommendations from the Council will be presented to the legislature by the end of this year.

Connect Illinois will centralize state agency resources, collaborate with private-sector experts and bipartisan legislators from around Illinois and break down government silos to expand broadband access across the entire state. Their work will be centered around three main outcomes: telehealth, education and economic development.

$20 million of the $420 million allocation will go to the Illinois Century Network, an existing broadband network serving K-12 schools, higher education, public libraries, museums, state and local governments and the health care community. The Council will also be making recommendations on how to improve access to telehealth as well as providing connectivity to rural areas.

By law, Governor Pritzker is required to appoint a council that reflects expertise in technology development and one that balances the needs of both rural and urban residents. The council includes:

• Karen Boswell, Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Frontier Communications
• Melia Carter, a Director of Government Affairs at Verizon
• Steve Hill, President, Satellite Broadcast and Communications Association
• Rick Holzmacher, Director of Government Affairs for the Illinois Rural Broadband Association
• Zak Horn, President, Metro Communications Company
• Christopher Nelson, Comcast’s Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Chicago region
• Deno Perdiou, AT&T’s Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Illinois
• Deb Alfredson, Illinois Association of Housing Authorities
• David Antonacci, Illinois Board of Higher Education
• Paula Basta, Illinois Department on Aging
• Bill Bodine, Illinois Farm Bureau
• Nikki Budzinski, Office of Governor JB Pritzker
• Mike Chamberlain, Illinois Municipal League, Mayor of Belvidere
• John Connor (D), Illinois House of Representatives
• Bill Cunningham (D), Illinois Senate
• Kristi Dula, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
• Theresa Eagleson, Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
• Ryan Gruenenfelder, AARP
• Jeff Newell, Illinois Community College Board
• Susan Satter, Illinois Attorney General’s Office
• Josh Shallenberger, Shelby Electric Coop
• Anne Slaughter, Illinois Library Association
• Jil Tracy (R), Illinois Senate
• Keith Wheeler (R), Illinois House of Representatives
• Jim Zolnierik, Illinois Commerce Commission

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