News from the ITA

October 2, 2019


 DoIT Schedules October 8 Webinar on Changes to K-12 School Service & E-rate

The Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) and the Illinois Century Network have scheduled a webinar for service providers interested in learning more about recent changes announced for K-12 public school service and DoIT's participation in E-rate. The webinar will be held Tuesday, October 8 at 2:00 p.m. and is available to all service providers.

Click here to register

The following is a summary of the changes recently announced by DoIT: 

  • As of July 1, 2019, the ICN is waiving service charges for public K-12 schools and will provide all traditional services as well as new security services at no cost. DoIT says the new K-12 initiative is intended to return to past practice and their original charter when the network was built. At that time, the ICN provided backbone service to schools at no-cost as it was originally intended for anchor institutions. However, the ICN could not sustain the no-cost service over time. The returned focus on the backbone network instead of the last mile will maximize state agency resources and will be limited to K-12 public schools due to funding limitations.

  • On July 1, 2020, ICN will discontinue participating as a USAC E-rate Service Provider and no longer compete with the private sector for E-rate contracts. DoIT will form a consortium acting as an E-rate applicant on behalf of all the public K-12 schools in the consortia. This Fall, DoIT will issue Form 470 RFPs for Internet access and supporting transport (Last Mile). DoIT says the ICN will provide backbone Internet service and the agency will rely on existing service providers for last mile connections and transport. DoIT says they need the service provider community to respond to the E-Rate RFP for last mile service and transport and they assert that this initiative is intended to be a public private partnership and not an expansion of their network. Schools that have existing contracts with other service providers will have to fulfill those contracts before joining the DoIT consortia. 

BAC Working Groups Submit Recommendations for Connect Illinois

The Broadband Advisory Council met October 1 to review recommendations from five working groups. The five working groups - Telehealth, Education, Economic Development, Access and Infrastructure & Technology - met over the past month and submitted reports for further consideration by the full BAC. The information and recommendations will also provide guidance for the establishment of the Connect Illinois broadband grant program.

Connect Illinois will provide $400 million in state grants to internet service providers over the next 3-5 years to spur broadband investment in unserved and underserved areas of the state. Improving broadband access, especially in rural areas, was one of Governor Pritzker's campaign promises and one of his top priorities during the spring legislative session.  

Pritzker appointed seven telecom industry members to the 25-member BAC, including five members representing  ITA companies: AT&T, Frontier Communications, the Illinois Rural Broadband Association, Verizon and Metro Communications.  

ITA President, Randy Nehrt, served on the Infrastructure & Technology Working group that focused on the grant program design and parameters. The Access working group was focused on rights-of-way issues. 

Matt Schmit was also introduced at the BAC meeting as the Director of the Office of Broadband in Illinois. The Office of Broadband was established this year within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and will oversee broadband grant deployment under Connect Illinois and other broadband policy for the state. Schmit is a former Minnesota State Senator and was a sponsor of the legislation establishing Minnesota's Border to Border Broadband Grant program.

The next meeting of the Broadband Advisory Council is October 21.  

Illinois Telecommunications Association

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           Springfield, IL 62701             

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