The Illinois Office of Broadband (IOB) is launching a comprehensive local coordination effort to gather input for the state's plan for investing federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's (BIL) Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity (DE) programs. The funding programs provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Illinoisans to get connected to the economic and social benefits available through high-speed internet.
Currently, at least 200,000 Illinois households lack high-speed internet infrastructure, and at least 1.1 million Illinois households lack a desktop or laptop computer. The IOB believes that the new federal funding presents an opportunity to address these disparities and promote digital equity throughout the state.
To ensure that the state's plan reflects the needs and priorities of local communities, the IOB is seeking input from all broadband stakeholders. This includes conducting listening sessions and webinars where Illinoisans can voice their concerns, share their experiences and perspectives, and identify barriers to broadband access within their communities. Local non-profits and community organizations are also invited to participate.
The listening sessions have been scheduled throughout the state, and interested parties can register to attend in-person or remain anonymous. Here are the dates, times, and locations of the listening sessions in Central Illinois:
April 25, 5-6 p.m. at the Macon County Extension Office Illini Room, 3351 N. President Howard Brown Blvd., Decatur, IL 62521. This session is open to residents, and registration is required at https://decatur-session.eventbrite.com.
April 26, 3-4 p.m. at Innovate Springfield, 15 S. Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield, IL 62701. This session is open to local non-profits and community organizations, and registration is required at https://springfield-cbo-session.eventbrite.com.
April 26, 6-7 p.m. at Lincoln Library Carnegie Room North, 326 S. 7th St., Springfield, IL 62701. This session is open to residents, and registration is required at https://springfield-session.eventbrite.com.