SPRINGFIELD– State Senator Rachel Ventura is spearheading a new measure to expand greater access to broadband at all public schools and libraries in the state.

“The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the crucial need for all Illinoisans to have access to broadband,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “High-speed internet is at the forefront of all parts of life – from work to school, and everything in between.”

Senate Bill 851 would require the Broadband Advisory Council to conduct a feasibility study to determine best practices for expanding connection to all public schools, public libraries and state-owned correctional facilities, as well as how to connect to all remaining anchor institutions to the Illinois Century Network. The study will be due Jan. 1, 2024, with a goal of implementing the findings by 2030 and would increase speeds up to 1 gig.

The Illinois Century Network is a state-owned and operated broadband network that provides Internet connectivity for thousands of sites statewide, ensuring high availability for cloud-based content, disaster recovery services, data, video and audio communications.

“We must mend the digital divide facing far too many communities in Illinois,” said Ventura. “Our goal is to move the state forward toward greater inclusivity and accessibility.”

Senate Bill 851 passed through the Senate on Thursday and moves to House for further consideration.