On Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined the White House and the U.S. Department of the Treasury to announce the approval of broadband projects in Illinois under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund, which aims to make affordable and reliable high-speed internet accessible to all Americans. Illinois will receive $253.7 million for broadband infrastructure, which is estimated to connect 87,163 households and businesses to the internet.
The Capital Projects Fund (CPF) provides a total of $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. In addition to the $10 billion provided by the CPF, many governments are using a portion of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to connect every American households to affordable and reliable high-speed internet. Together, these American Rescue Plan programs and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are working in tandem to close the digital divide by deploying high-speed internet to those without access and lowering costs for those who cannot afford it.
“The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized that Illinoisans need access to high-speed internet to run their businesses, complete homework, access health care, connect with family and friends, and more. Because of the Capital Projects Fund, more than 87,000 Illinois households and businesses will be able to get online,” said Durbin. “I’m encouraged that the Biden Administration shares my urgency in improving access to broadband statewide. Today’s announced funding is an investment in the effort to close the digital divide.”
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen that reliable electricity and internet access is crucial for public health, the success of small businesses, educating our children and improving quality of life,” said Duckworth. “I’m pleased to help share today’s announcement about Illinois’s Capital Projects Fund and how this support from the American Rescue Plan will help Illinois families afford and access high-speed broadband infrastructure. I’ll always keep working to support policies that help working families and ensure every single Illinoisan has access to reliable electricity and broadband.”
Illinois is approved to receive $253.7 million for broadband infrastructure, which the state estimates will connect 87,163 households and businesses – representing approximately 25 percent of locations still lacking high-speed internet access and 100 percent of the state’s total allocation under the CPF program. Illinois’ award will fund the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant (CIBG) Program, a competitive grant program designed to deploy high-speed internet service to areas lacking access to at least 100/20 Mbps wireline service. The CIBG Program will prioritize projects that demonstrate community support, deploy fiber-optic infrastructure, and provide affordable service and adoption assistance. Each of the internet service providers funded by the program will participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) – a $30 per month subsidy for qualifying households.
To further lower costs, the Biden Administration has secured commitments from 20 leading internet service providers—covering more than 80 percent of the U.S. population—to offer all ACP-eligible households high-speed, high-quality internet plans for no more than $30 per month. As a result, ACP-eligible households can receive internet access at no cost and can check their eligibility for free internet and sign up at GetInternet.gov.
In addition to requiring funding recipients to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, Treasury’s guidance requires recipients to consider whether the federally funded networks will be affordable to the target markets in their service areas and encourages recipients to require that a federally funded project offers at least one low-cost option at speeds that are sufficient for a household with multiple users.