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$1.6B in Grants Will Bring Fiber to Rural Southern Illinois

The state and federal funding will drive deployment of high-speed Internet. The money, which comes in part from the American Rescue Plan Act, will be distributed by formula to unserved and underserved locations first.

Rural Illinois
Rural Illinois
Shutterstock/Ian Dikhtiar
(TNS) — Wider high-speed Internet is coming to rural Southern Illinois with $1.6 billion in state and federal grant funding. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 702 announced the regional broadband Internet installation initiative Tuesday at the IBEW Local 702 Lineman Training Facility.

According to the Illinois Department of Commerce, the American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included over $1.3 billion in federal support for the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant Program and related digital equity initiatives related to this project.

The funding is being distributed based on a formula that considers the number of unserved locations (those below 25/3Mbps), followed by underserved locations (those below 100/20Mbps) and then community anchor institutions (1/1 Gbps).

“We’ve heard that rural Illinois needs high-speed Internet for 20 years. Now it’s here,” said Steve Hughart, IBEW Local 7 business manager.

He said local Internet cooperatives are taking advantage of this funding and installing miles of fiber. Then IBEW Local 702 comes in to man the work, he said. Hughart said they need increase training so men can install Internet poles.

  • West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications’ $4.7 million grant will serve 1,700 homes, businesses and community anchor institutions in rural Union and Pulaski Counties.

  • WK&T’s $9.8 million grant will serve 1,725 homes, businesses and community anchor institutions in Jackson and Union Counties ( Anna, Buncombe, Carbondale, Cobden, Etherton, Goreville, Lick Creek, Makanda, Murphysboro, Pomona and Vergennes).

  • ProTek Communications’ $2.4 million grant will serve 1,039 homes, businesses and community anchor institutions in Festestown, rural Marion and portions of Lake of Egypt.

  • Protek’s $51 million grants will serve 5,475 homes, businesses and community anchor institutions in Franklin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Williamson and Union Counties

  • Specifically: Arcadia Lake, Akin, Anna, Anna Jonesboro, Clemburne, Desoto, Devils Dowel, Elkville, Kitchen, Dongola, Fergestown, Freeman Spur, Herrin, Hannaford, Husband Road, Johnston City, Little Grassy, Mulkeytown, Plumfield, Robin Woods, Royalton, South Crab Orchard, Stiritz and Thompsonville.

  • Shawnee Communications’ $3.5 million grant will serve 1,635 additional homes, businesses and community anchor institutions in Williamson and Johnson Counties ( Goreville, Eagle Point Bay and Pulleys Mill). Its 1.2 million grant will serve Saline County (Mitchellsville and Rudement).

  • Crossville Telephone’s $7 million grant will serve 1,950 homes, businesses and community anchor institutions in the community of West Englewood.

Hughart said this project is not only important for residential customers, but schools, hospitals and businesses as well, and it will bring jobs and industry to Southern Illinois small communities.

The project is four stages, and the second is wrapping up now.

©2024 The Southern Illinoisan, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.