News from the ITA

January 17, 2020


Legislative Update

State Legislators are in the process of drafting new legislation and introducing new bills as the General Assembly prepares to begin the 2020 spring legislative session. The Illinois Senate is scheduled to return to Springfield this Sunday, January 19 for the purpose of electing a new Senate President. Current Senate President John Cullerton announced at the end of the fall Veto Session his intention to retire in the near future.

Both the House and Senate will return for legislative session January 28 in Springfield. Governor Pritzker will deliver his State of the State Address on January 29. Pritzker recently talked about his efforts to build on his accomplishments from his first year in office with easing the property tax burden, rooting out corruption and bringing jobs to the state at the top of his agenda for 2020.

Gov. Discusses Connect Illinois Broadband Grant Program

Covering one of the Governor's recent news conferences on his first-year accomplishments and second year agenda, the Capitol Fax website reported Governor Pritzker's comments about improving broadband in Southern Illinois as one of his top initiatives to stem the loss of population downstate:

The governor also talked extensively about what he is doing to help Downstate in the wake of a report that the region lost almost 120,000 people between 2010 and 2018. The previous decade was very hard on Cook County, which lost over 200,000 residents in that period, but now it’s Downstate’s turn.

Pritzker pointed to $420 million in the capital bill for highspeed broadband. “That’s a big thing because you can’t create jobs in cities or towns where there isn’t highspeed Internet,” Pritzker said. “It’s in every business.”

He also said the state will help bring “tele-health” centers to areas with broadband service so that people can obtain video-conferencing health services like counseling and diagnostic care from providers who wouldn’t normally live in those areas. “People who have mental health challenges who require therapy, sometimes there aren’t qualified therapists in their area, so that’s an example of something that really does work, it’s got a proven history.”

Pritzker also said he was working to recruit jobs and claimed the largest job growth in the state has been in southern Illinois, which has been hit hard over the years. The governor talked about incentives from last year, including the datacenter tax credit pushed by Republicans. “We’ve created a bunch of incentives for people to come to the state.”

“We’re going to do more,” the governor said. “Downstate revitalization is a very important program for me.”


Illinois Office of Broadband Development Update

Matt Schmit, Director of the Illinois Office of Broadband Development, said recently in an interview with NPR that one of the office’s first projects is developing the state’s own broadband map, which the office is currently looking for a third-party vendor to do. The Connect Illinois website notes that the Office of Broadband is working to produce it's own broadband maps, but will rely on 477 data in the meantime.

Schmit has also said in various forums that he hopes to issue a Notice of Funding Opportunity for broadband grants in the first quarter of 2020, potentially by the end of January. The Connect Illinois website was recently updated and is a good resource for companies interested in the program. In addition, information about the program, including pre-registration requirements, is available on the ITA website.

Pritzker hopes to build on 1st-year accomplishments (The State Journal-Register)

 FCC to Vote On Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

Says Phase 1 would target 6 million homes in 48 states; 246,000 in Ilinois

The Federal Communications Commission will consider a Report and Order that would adopt a two-phase reverse auction framework for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, committing $20.4 billion in high-cost universal service support to bring high-speed broadband service to millions of unserved Americans at its January 30 open meeting. (WC Docket Nos. 19-126, 10-90)

In a press release issued this week, the FCC estimates six million rural homes and businesses could benefit from the rural digital opportunity fund and released a preliminary list showing the number of locations eligible for bidding in each state for high-speed broadband through Phase I of the $20.4 billion fund. The number of bid-eligible locations in Illinois is 246,000.


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Telecom Headlines

 Illinois looks to map who has internet access and who doesn't (NPR Illinois)

 T-Mobile/Sprint case boils down to Dish fix - analyst (FierceWireless)

 58.5 billion robocalls made in 2019, up 22 percent (The Hill)

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