State Pledges $50M to Bring Broadband Relief to “Internet Deserts”

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Describing parts of their state as “internet deserts,” Illinois has pledged to sprinkle those regions with an initial outpouring of $50M in grants. A total of $420M has been earmarked for thirsty areas of Illinois, reported the State Journal-Register

Governor JB Pritzker made the announcement earlier this month. Overseeing the project, Connect Illinois will spearhead the state’s efforts to expand broadband accessibility into underserved areas. 

“This technology empowers medical professionals to treat patients faster with remote expertise and frankly, that saves lives,” Pritzker stated. “With broadband access, we can provide expert stroke care in small communities everywhere in our state.”  

Citing the importance of telehealth availability, the State Journal-Register relayed the case of stroke victim Brenda Graham, a patient with unique medical needs. Thanks to a telehealth robot and fast, reliable broadband service, information was sent to doctors who were able to immediately respond with specialized life-saving medical care. As Dr. Gurpreet Mander of St. John’s Hospital said, “With strokes, time is of essence. If you go outside the window of 45 minutes or an hour, the chances of long-term damage increase because brain cells do not come back once they die.” 

With the release of the broadband funding, Illinois hopes to extend health, business, and educational access to all its residents. Applicants including broadband providers, rural cooperatives, local governments and nonprofits, have until April 3 to apply. “In an increasingly competitive global economy, we simply cannot afford to leave any community without connectivity so I want to encourage big and small internet providers across the state to apply for these funds,” Governor Pritzker added. 

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