Durbin: University of Illinois to Receive $22.5 Million in Recovery Act Funding to Expand Broadband Internet Access

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that the Department of Commerce (DOC) has awarded $22,534,776 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois to build 187 miles of fiber-optic broadband network in Urbana, Champaign, and Savoy. The funding will also be used to support fiber-to-the-home services in four low-income neighborhoods and provide high-speed connectivity to 143 community anchor institutions which include schools, social service agencies, healthcare facilities, youth centers, and public libraries.

“Broadband is an important economic tool, and too many Illinoisans lack adequate and affordable access” said Durbin. “This funding will make a significant investment in the effort to close the digital divide.”

This funding will enable local broadband providers to connect with the open network in order to provide access to up to 50,000 households and 3,700 businesses.  Today’s announcement is part of more than $160 million awarded by the DOC nationwide this week to increase broadband access.

Widespread access to broadband enables local businesses to expand, promotes job development, allows for more efficient public services, and supports cutting-edge educational opportunities.  Durbin has led the fight in the Senate to provide funding for expanded access to broadband.  Durbin’s Connect the Nation legislation was enacted in 2007.  Durbin helped secure $350 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for grants to develop and implement statewide initiatives that help identify and track broadband services in states throughout the country.