Funds will Help Improve Internet Availability/Connectivity in Rural Areas
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Warren Ribley today announced that four Illinois telephone utilities have been awarded $71.6 million in federal grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to build, expand and improve broadband in their rural service territories. Illinois received the highest number of awards this grant period.
“These types of public-private partnerships are essential as we work to create jobs, address a critical need in underserved communities, and enhance our state’s global competitiveness,” said Director Ribley. “This funding will help ensure our rural communities are equipped with modern infrastructure that will keep them competitive and strengthen their long-term economic growth.”
“Today’s funding will provide residents of these rural communities with high speed internet connections to improve healthcare and educational opportunities and connect to global markets,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “In addition to providing much needed services to rural businesses and residents, these investments will increase jobs, not just in the near term, but through expanded opportunities in rural areas.”
Four Illinois projects received funding:
- McNabb Telephone Company--$3,700,000 in loan funds will be used to make system improvements, including constructing new Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) facilities. A total of 115 miles of buried fiber optic cable will be deployed to improve service to subscribers.
- Shawnee Telephone Company--$30,286,000 in loan funds will be used to construct FTTP facilities, allowing Shawnee to provide voice and data services at speeds of up to 100 Mbps to both residences and businesses.
- McDonough Telephone Cooperative, Inc.--$15,728,000 in funds will be used to upgrade the rural areas with Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) technology. Approximately 766 miles of buried fiber cable will be deployed to provide over half of the subscribers with access to improved broadband service. McDonough has been serving its rural subscribers for over 60 years.
- Wabash Telephone Cooperative, Inc.--$21,867,000 will be used to install 777 miles of buried fiber optic cables and related equipment throughout the proposed FTTP system. The FTTP system will enhance service to 70 percent of Wabash's subscribers.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. More information about USDA Rural Development can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.
A longtime advocate of improving the state’s technology infrastructure, Governor Quinn has taken many steps to encourage broadband deployment in all areas of Illinois. As part of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program, the state has leveraged more than $350 million dollars of private and federal investment with $50 million in state matching funds managed by DCEO.