Illinois Senator Advocates for Rural High-Speed Internet Access Through BEAD Program

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KANKAKEE, IL – State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) is spearheading efforts to ensure rural communities in Illinois aren’t left behind in the digital era, emphasizing the critical need for high-speed internet across all sectors. As part of his commitment, Joyce is ensuring that federal funds from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program are allocated efficiently to meet this goal.

“Access to high-speed internet isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity in today’s digital age,” Joyce remarked, highlighting the significance of internet accessibility in education, healthcare, and economic development. The BEAD Program, fueled by the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021, provides $42.45 billion nationally to bridge the digital divide, with Illinois receiving approximately $1 billion.

In 2022, Joyce advocated for public engagement in the broadband funding process, enhancing transparency and ensuring that investments are made where they’re most needed. Recently, the state initiated the BEAD Map Challenge Process, inviting Illinois residents to report inaccuracies in the state’s broadband map. This effort aims to create an updated map to guide the allocation of funds, ensuring that underserved areas are prioritized.

Joyce urges communities facing connectivity issues to participate in the Map Challenge before the upcoming deadline, stressing the importance of equitable internet access. The initiative represents a significant step towards eliminating the digital divide, ensuring that rural and farming communities gain the connectivity needed to thrive in today’s digital landscape.

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