Shelby County, Ill., Looks to Boost Broadband Speeds

The county is responding to a growing demand for faster speed internet.

by Stan Polanski, Shelbyville Daily Union, Ill. / January 13, 2017

(TNS) -- The Shelby County, Ill., board has unanimously passed a resolution calling for legislators to help with improving high speed broadband internet to all areas of the county.

The resolution followed former business owner David Johnson's address to the board last month, when he explained that a lack of internet access was hurting businesses and job growth.

State legislators representing Shelby County hadn't yet seen the resolution, but called improving internet access in rural areas was a priority.

"We've been working for a long-time on broadband rollout in rural Illinois," said State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). "We've made great strides in some areas, but not in others. It's an ongoing process. I look forward to chatting with the board."

"Demand for high speed internet is definitely outpacing supply," said State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville). "I think improving internet access is important. It's a priority."

Rose said that a contentious internet issue facing the General Assembly could have big implications for rural areas. Phone companies would like to disinvest in land lines and put more resources into wireless internet.

"They're forced to maintain infrastructure that's dying quickly," he said.

While Rose said legislators wouldn't want to let those who depend on land lines to be cut off, a reinvestment toward wireless internet may help rural areas the most.

"The money would be better spent in wireless," he said.

Internet access may still be spotty in some areas, but Rose said the industry has come a long way.

"It isn't as easy as flipping a switch," he said. "The whole industry is in a transition. As much as it's changed in the last 20 years, I can't imagine how it will in the next 20."

©2017 the Shelbyville Daily Union (Shelbyville, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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