ventura bband 051123SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura spearheaded a new law that will expand greater access to broadband at all public schools and libraries in the state.

“High-speed internet is at the forefront of all parts of our lives – from work to school, and everything in between,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “This bill takes the first step towards improving high quality, fiberoptic broadband throughout all of Illinois by developing the ‘middle mile’ and making sure there is public sector option.”

Instead of handing the nearly $1.2 Billion in federal funding over to internet giants, Ventura wants to create competition in the market place and use those taxpayer dollars to reduce costs for Illinois families.

The Illinois Century Network (ICN) is a state-owned and operated broadband network that provides the fastest Internet connectivity available in our state to thousands of sites statewide, ensuring availability for cloud-based content, disaster recovery services, data, video and audio communications.

“Broadband access should be treated like a public utility,” said Ventura. “We all use it and we need to take this moment to modernize Illinois’ infrastructure if we want to be competitive in attracting businesses to our state.”

Senate Bill 851 will require the Broadband Advisory Council to conduct a feasibility study to determine best practices for expanding connections to all public schools, public libraries and state-owned correctional facilities, as well as how to connect to all remaining anchor institutions to the Illinois Century Network. The study will be due Jan. 1, 2024, with a goal of implementing the findings to increase speeds up to one gig. 

“We must mend the digital divide facing far too many communities in Illinois,” said Ventura. “Our goal is to move the state forward toward greater inclusivity and accessibility.”

Senate Bill 851 was signed into law Friday and goes into effect immediately.