Illinois Broadband Lab

The State of Illinois’s $420 million investment in its Connect Illinois broadband investment is historic in terms of both the initial state funding commitment and goals envisioned – namely, to achieve ubiquitous access to reliable, fully-scalable broadband service throughout the state. Optimizing the impact of this investment will require engagement with various stakeholders around Illinois.

The Illinois Broadband Lab is a collaborative effort among the Illinois Office of Broadband, the University of Illinois, and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, to advance shared interests in broadband data and research, explore various aspects of the digital divide, and provide thoughtful analysis of the Connect Illinois capital investment and related programming.

The Lab will measure, monitor, and tell the story of broadband investments—whether in mapping, infrastructure, digital inclusion, or community planning and engagement. Combining the country’s largest state-driven broadband matching grant program with value-adding capacity focused on best practices, investment impact, and innovative cross-sector collaboration will ensure sustained success of the Connect Illinois program – and establish Illinois as the state that does broadband best, in terms of investment and inquiry.

The collaboration may include:

  • Engaging with stakeholders to study and drive advances in broadband access, adoption, and use – particularly through the frame of digital equity;
  • Supporting the Illinois Office of Broadband and Illinois Broadband Advisory Council, including contributions to an annual report;
  • Measuring broadband impact through critical indicators and dashboarding;
  • Participating in the design, review, and use of broadband maps generated annually by the Office of Broadband’s mapping partner(s);
  • Contributing to broadband-related literature, inter-disciplinary inquiry, and engagement among faculty, researchers, and students;
  • Supporting a deeper understanding of and best practices in telehealth, remote learning, smart cities, smart grid, precision agriculture, IoT applications, etc.
  • The collective contribution of the Illinois Broadband Lab will be critical to optimizing the Connect Illinois broadband investment, understanding its impact, and sharing its innovation story in best practice broadband programming and deployment.