News from the ITA

February 16, 2021



Connect Illinois Round 2 Application Deadline Extended to April 12

The deadline to submit application's for the second round of the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant program has been extended to April 12. Connect Illinois is a $400 million, multi-year grant program with a goal of providing ubiquitous broadband access for homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions. 

As in Round 1, $50 million in state grant awards will be available to broadband providers in Round 2. The Round 2 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) provides for a $5 million maximum grant, while encouraging broadband providers to submit multiple grant applications. The Office of Broadband within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity oversees the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant program.

Connect Illinois Round 2 Announcement Press Release

Connect Illinois website

Illinois Legislative Update

The Illinois House of Representatives held session Wednesday, February 10 to adopt new House Rules for the 102nd General Assembly. The new rules provide for term limits for legislative leadership and allow for remote committee hearings by video-conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Illinois House and Senate have canceled all February session days due to the pandemic, but plan to hold committee hearings by video-conference in the interim. 

Members of the House and Senate have begun filing bills. Summaries of legislation that affect the broadband and telecommunications industry in Illinois can be found on the ITA website

Governor Pritzker is scheduled to deliver his Budget Address at noon, Wednesday, February 17.

 Federal News & Programs

USAC to Host Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Webinars for Interested Service Providers

USAC will host an introductory webinar providing an overview of Lifeline and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program for service providers interested in participating in the EBBP. The webinar will include a review of USAC systems used to check eligibility, enroll consumers, and claim reimbursement, as USAC prepares to make those systems available for the new program.

The EBBP will provide a monthly discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service and a one-time device discount of up to $100 for eligible consumers. Consumers can use the device discount to purchase laptops, desktops, or tablets from participating providers if they also contribute $10-$50 toward the price of the device. 

Register for the webinar below:

Webinar Registration:

USAC will update this web page as additional information is available and additional trainings are scheduled. To stay up to date on the EBBP, sign up for the EBBP email list.

Robocalls Order on Reconsideration Effective Feb. 12 (NECA Washington Watch)

The order on reconsideration of the FCC’s previous interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that permitted certain government and government contractor calls without consumers’ prior express consent was published in the Federal Register and is effective on Feb. 12, 2021.

FCC Issues Agenda for February Open Meeting (NECA Washington Watch)

The FCC issued the agenda for its Feb. 17, 2021 Open Meeting on Feb. 10, 2021. At the meeting, the FCC will hear a presentation on the creation of a $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program Congress charged the FCC with developing to help Americans who are struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. The FCC will also hear presentations about the next steps for the COVID-19 Telehealth program and on the work the FCC is doing to improve its broadband maps. Additionally, the FCC will consider an NPRM on addressing the diversion of 911 fees by states and other jurisdictions for purposes unrelated to 911, and a third FNPRM to modify FCC rules consistent with changes made to the Secure Networks Act.

ITA Member News

If you have news you would like to share with other ITA members, feel free to send the information to Nina or Randy and we will post the information on our website under the member news section of our Member Center webpage.

Shawnee Communications and State of Illinois Invest in Southern Illinois Broadband Infrastructure

Shawnee Communications (Shawnee), a rural provider of telephone, high-speed internet, and other telecommunications services in seven Southern and Central Illinois counties, today announced the culmination of a public-private partnership with the State of Illinois to expand high-speed internet services to previously underserved and unserved Southern Illinois residents.

Shawnee announced that they would partner with the State of Illinois on a $22 million investment to bring high-speed internet technology infrastructure to customers in Saline, Johnson, and Williamson Counties.  Customers in Mitchellsville, Rudement, Buncombe, Vienna, Pulleys Mill and Goreville will receive greatly improved high-speed internet services, delivered by fiber to the home (FTTH) network technology.

Employment Opportunity - Network Engineer - Shawnee Communications

Shawnee's Network Engineer will design, update, and monitor data networking systems and equipment. They will review network traffic, usage, and capacity to assess future network requirements. They make recommendations regarding new system technologies and upgrades.

Employment Opportunity - Account Relations Position - Central Scott Telephone

Central Scott Telephone/CS Technologies is looking to hire an experienced Account Relations team member.

CDG's MBS Integrates with PNC’s IVR to Enable Pay-By-Phone Capabilities

Communications Data Group (CDG), is pleased to announce the recent completion of an integration between CDG’s MBS, consumer and enterprise management and billing system, and PNC’s PayerExpress IVR system. 

Rural Partners Telehealth Webinar Series Continues Feb. 12

The Rural Partners Telehealth Series continued last week with Part 2: The COVID-19 Telehealth Sea Change and New Opportunities (Feb 12) addressing telehealth and how it has changed healthcare during the pandemic.

Part 3: The Value of Telehealth to Rural Economies (Feb 17) will look at existing research on telemedicine that suggests that access is a major determinant of demand. Participants can expect to learn how significant telemedicine as a model for healthcare provision in Illinois, whether the preference for telemedicine differ between the metro and the nonmetro population, and what is the overall societal value of telemedicine.

Part 1: SIU Medicine’s Telehealth Program and Experience (Jan 21) covered how SIU Medicine’s “telehealth to the home” services has expanded and continues to move towards the future demand.


Broadband & Telecom Headlines

Shawnee Communications Gets Connect Illinois Funding for $22 Million Broadband Project (telecompetitor)

Parks: 24% of U.S. Broadband Households Likely to Upgrade Service in Next Six Months (MediaPlayNews)

Implementation Ideas for $3.2 Billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (telecompetitor)

OpenVault Broadband Insights Report (OVBI): Q4 Advisory

Illinois Telecommunications Association

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