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Illinois to receive over $1 billion for high-speed internet around the state

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(The Center Square) – Illinois will be receiving more than $1 billion in federal tax funds to expand high-speed internet throughout the state.

The figures were announced this week by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. It is part of President Joe Biden’s $42 billion “Internet for All” spending plan. Nineteen states will receive at least $1 billion, with Texas getting the largest amount at $3.3 billion.

During an appearance in Chicago Wednesday, Biden said the program is converting some critics.

“There is a guy named Tuberville, a senator from Alabama, who announced he strongly opposed the legislation, now he’s hailing its passage,” Biden of Sen. Tommy Tuberville. “He said quote, ‘It’s great to see Alabama receive critical funds to boost ongoing broadband efforts.’”

The funding is in addition to the $420 million dedicated to the Connect Illinois broadband infrastructure plan.

Connect Illinois includes allocating $400 million to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to deploy statewide broadband expansion, especially for rural families and communities that have been the most impacted by the digital divide. It also includes $20 million to repair, enhance and expand broadband for schools with a focus on K-12 education.

Matt Schmit, director of the Illinois Office of Broadband, said the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, or BEAD, and the Digital Equity Act will come into play in the coming months.

“The whole idea is we want to be able to take a holistic approach to broadband deployment, to digital equity, to community engagement, planning and the preparation for the use of these federal dollars,” Schmit said.

States will now have 180 days to submit a plan to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on how they will use the funding.

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