The Connect Illinois broadband investment represents an integral and strategic component of the comprehensive 2019 Rebuild Illinois infrastructure program and the state’s five-year economic plan. With $400 million appropriated for competitive broadband grants, Connect Illinois constitutes the largest state broadband matching grant program ever, and it provides the magnitude of funding needed for state-driven broadband ubiquity – and lasting broadband equity.
In addition to $400 million in competitive grants, the Connect Illinois program includes $20 million for upgrades to the 100 GB Illinois Century Network, the state’s existing 2,000-mile open access institutional fiber network serving over 3,400 K-12, higher education, and library locations across the state. Importantly, this funding will provide a secure K-12 Broadband Network available at no cost for all Illinois K-12 public schools.
Connect Illinois seeks to achieve what no other state or federal approach to date has accomplished: ubiquitous statewide broadband access – for homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions throughout the state. At the same time, Connect Illinois will promote digital literacy, adoption, and inclusion while leveraging investment in new broadband infrastructure to spur advances in such areas as economic development, education, precision agriculture, and telehealth. Simply put, Connect Illinois aspires to achieve broadband equity and broadband innovation.