The Southern Illinoisan
By Rob Crow
February 17, 2012
CARBONDALE - Illinois' lieutenant governor is asking Southern Illinoisans to take an online survey about how broadband Internet access affects their lives.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon said many surveys in the past have merely been used to see what areas are in need of broadband access. This one, however, will focus on the uses of broadband and how it can improve people's businesses, education and health care.
"I think we have a good idea of where people have access and where they don't," Simon said. "This is more a survey of, when you've got access, what are you using it for? What's going on, education-wise, health care-wise and business-wise, so we have a better idea, especially in small-town, rural Illinois, how much is the Internet something that boosts local businesses?"
Access in Southern Illinois is particularly spotty. Research cited by Simon's office says one-fifth of Illinois' land area has no broadband access, and eight of Illinois' 10 counties with the least broadband access are in Southern Illinois.
A Carbondale native, Simon said her anecdotal evidence agrees with those numbers.
"From being someone who drives all over the state a lot, I can tell you, there are places where you can talk and places you can't, places where you can find a Wi-Fi hotspot and plenty of places where it's simply not available," Simon said.
The statewide survey is being done by Partnership for a Connected Illinois.
Simon said it's very important people fill out the survey, which is supposed to take about 20 minutes. The more people who fill out the survey, Simon said, the more accurate results the state will receive, and the more they'll be able to do with the information.