November 27, 2017

Duckworth, Durbin Announce Over $9 Million to Expand Broadband Access Across South Central Illinois


[WASHINGTON, DC] - U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced a $9,413,000 federal grant today to help expand broadband access and speeds across Central Illinois by investing in 264 miles of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband network. This funding comes through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development Community Connect grant program, which invests in broadband projects in communities where private sector providers do not yet deliver service.

"Dependable high-speed internet is critical for students, families and small businesses alike to succeed in today's economy," Senator Duckworth said. "I'll keep working to ensure all Illinoisans-including those living in rural areas-have access to reliable high-speed internet to help strengthen economic development at the local and national level."

"Without reliable access to broadband internet, rural communities can't fully access the tools and resources they need to succeed; communities are less able to attract businesses or high-quality employees considering relocating; and businesses are unable to take advantage of the online market,"
said Durbin. "This funding is an investment in the effort to close the digital divide by increasing broadband availability in Illinois."

USDA Rural Development invests in infrastructure projects across the country through loans and grants to unserved and underserved rural communities. These resources provide much-needed infrastructure improvements that help business development, homeownership, community services, public safety and healthcare and high-speed internet access.

Local community members share ownership of the Wabash Communications CO-OP, which began as a small telephone cooperative in 1952. The CO-OP has since grown to operate approximately 4,000 access lines in nine exchanges throughout South Central Illinois.