Still disappointed that Kansas City, Kansas was chosen as Google’s test site for a fiber network? In the 2012 State of the State address, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced a comparable program for Illinois communities. Applicants may request between $1 million and $4 million from the state to construct or extend a gigabit-speed network that serves at least 1,000 end-users.
While it seems Verizon has ended the build-out of their FiOS network and AT&T has switched their U-Verse expansion into neutral, the government continues efforts to spur on building out our networks. From what I have seen, the Broadband Investment program of the American Recovery and Reinvestments Act of 2009 has been struggling from the beginning by settling for low bandwidth speeds and largely looking toward wireless/cellular options to reach rural areas at a blazing 3.0 Mbps.
Hard-wired gigabit speed, as Google’s community search proved to us, can change lives. The speed enables new technologies, it improves the standard of living, it can save money, it allows access to new education, entertainment, and the opportunities that follow. The award will be based on similar credentials.
The best proposals will outline how completing ultra-high speed network construction by the end of 2013 will, among other objectives:
- Improve employment opportunities;
- Enhance economic development through the development of “smart communities” ;
- Bring Illinois closer to our goal of increasing the proportion of residents with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025;
- Connect health care professionals with their patients;
- Position Illinois’ universities to continue to lead the nation in research, technology and innovation.
Fortunately, Illinois has had the Illinois Century Network working on a new fiber build out. It largely serves cities, schools, libraries, and with Illinois Rural HealthNet, hospitals.
If you are at all interested in improving the Internet access of your community, you should visit gigabit.illinois.gov to learn more about the award. Also, check out BroadbandIllinois.org to keep apprised of other related programs going on in the state.
My hope is that not only will this bring broadband access to more people and faster access to those that already have it, but it may also reduce the cost and we can start treating Internet access like the utility it is (becoming).