Illinois to receive more than $250 million for broadband expansion

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Illinois is set to receive more than a quarter of a billion dollars in grants from the federal government to expand the reaches of broadband internet in the state.

In a news conference hosted by the White House Tuesday, federal officials announced Illinois has been approved to receive $253 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to offer broadband internet.

“The $253 million that’s coming to Illinois, is going to mean that a lot of kids have a better chance for a good education, and a lot of businesses can thrive,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. “And the farmers are going to be using those internets [sic] too.”

The White House estimates that money will be able to provide 87,163 households and businesses in Illinois with broadband internet, or about a quarter of the places in the state that currently lack high speed internet.

“Illinois has long recognized the need for public sector leadership and broadband expansion, even before the pandemic revealed the true magnitude and consequences of the digital divide,” Governor JB Pritzker said.

In addition to the ARPA funds, Illinois is also getting an additional $6,515,352.64 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to expand Internet access and digital equity in the state.

The Illinois government has also made an agreement with several Internet Service Providers to offer the Affordable Connectivity Program, broadband plans for $30 a month or less to low-income households. Lawmakers argue affordable plans are also essential in getting more people internet access.

“Showing up for rural Illinois communities means making sure that every single Illinois has access to reliable electricity and broadband, no matter their zip code,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, (D-IL) said. “We need to see [broadband internet] as a utility just like we do electricity or water or sewer systems.

To learn more information about the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can visit the White House’s website.

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