Though the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant is coming to an end, one look at headlines in the news shows that efforts to bring high-speed Internet to underserved communities continues throughout Illinois and the nation.
This was demonstrated recently when Governor Pat Quinn awarded $1.5 million to the Carbondale region to build a high-speed broadband infrastructure. This award makes Carbondale the most recent recipient of funds from the Illinois Communities Gigabit Challenge, with other funded projects in Chicago, Evanston, and Aurora. Leaders in Carbondale expect the high-speed fiber optic network to support education, healthcare, business, and residential customers.
To date the state has allocated more than $71 million to broadband project, seeing the opportunities it creates as a way boost the economy and create new opportunities. In a previous article published by CIRBN, Broadband Creates Jobs, statistics showed that out of more than 7,000 businesses surveyed, 70 percent reported that Internet was important to customer service, 59 percent reported it helped reach new customers, and more than 50 percent said that Internet lowered operating cost and increased revenues.
In addition to the benefits to businesses, healthcare organizations are reaping the benefits of high-speed broadband, implementing telemedicine strategy and even offering therapy and treatment to outlying areas where health resources are not readily accessible.
Educational institutions also have been taking advantage of increased bandwidth as technology becomes increasingly integrated into teaching and learning techniques. Thomas Metcalf School is a shining example of this as they recently transitioned their learning environment to one set on the Chrome browser so that students could continue lessons on any device so long as they have an Internet connection. This unique learning environment is showing students that it is the task, not the technology, which is important.
CIRBN is also opening doors for business, healthcare, nonprofit, education, government, and public safety organizations. Opportunity abounds because of broadband and because of the leaders who made CIRBN a reality. As CIRBN continues to expand and grow, we look forward to seeing how Central Illinois will use the network to further grow and expand. If your organization is using CIRBN broadband to create new opportunities for your community, please contact info@CIRBN.org and share your story with us.