broadband heroKANKAKEE – In order to allow all Illinois residents to have access to high-speed internet, State Senator Patrick Joyce has played an essential role in ensuring federal funding from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program is being used efficiently.

“Access to high-speed internet isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity in today’s digital age,” said Joyce (D-Essex). “From education to health care to economic opportunities, reliable internet access is vital for all communities to have, even rural areas.”

The Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 included $42.45 billion for the BEAD Program in an effort to connect all U.S. households, small businesses and community anchor institutions to high-speed internet. Around $1 billion in BEAD funding has been allocated to Illinois to provide internet access to the approximately 230,000 entities in the state that cannot get access to at least 100/20 Mbps service or 1/1 Gbps service.

Joyce has remained instrumental in ensuring Illinois residents, especially those in underserved areas, have access to fast internet. In 2022, he championed a measure to allow for public input on where best to allocate broadband funding.

Last month, Illinois launched the BEAD Map Challenge Process. By testing their internet speed, Illinoisans have an opportunity to correct inaccuracies in the state’s broadband map so it reflects the most up-to-date broadband access across the state. The updated map will determine which locations are eligible for funding through the BEAD program.

“It’s been hard for our rural and farming communities to receive the same kind of internet connectivity as more populated areas,” said Joyce. “I’m urging communities with spotty internet to participate in the Map Challenge phase before the Monday deadline so we have the chance to allow every community fast access.”

To participate in this phase, nonprofits, units of local government and internet service providers can submit challenges by using the BEAD Challenge Portal and residents can participate at Challenges can be submitted through March 18 at 11:59 p.m.