Inequities will be addressed, and the Lake County Board’s newly established special committee will look for methods to improve connectivity and availability of high-speed internet throughout the county. The special committee on broadband’s first meeting on Friday came to a successful conclusion with a hearty suggestion that the county employs a consultant to oversee what is thought to be a challenging but crucial duty.
Committee Chair Jennifer Clark, a county board member from Libertyville, stated, “Our goal is to come up with the actual strategy — how do we want to link our residents?” “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. If all goes according to plan, Lake County will be well-equipped for the next 30 years.” Although it goes by many names, broadband is essentially always-on internet service that is quicker than dial-up, according to Betsy Brandon, the FOIA coordinator for Lake County, who is working on the project.
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During the epidemic, having access to high-speed internet was a problem for some students taking distance education courses, but its importance has grown in other areas as well, including telehealth, working from home, and public access to government services. According to Brandon, accessibility depends on the areas covered by an internet provider. State parks and forest preserves may fall under the category of unserved sites, however, there are many more places that are thought to be underserved due to irregular service.
Although we have a lot of services, she warned that it might not be particularly reliable. According to the information given to the committee, 11,991 households and businesses are located in unincorporated areas, whereas 93,719 households and businesses are located in incorporated areas. More than a third of the country’s population, or 262,004, is deemed to be underserved in terms of connection speed.
That is the reason we are present today, Clark stated. Commissioner J. Kevin Hunter, an Ingleside resident and member of the county board, said, “I don’t think we can understate the importance of this.” “It will be a process of education for all of us.” Since there are many sources for new developments in broadband accessibility, timing is crucial. The federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program are one of them, with a $42.45 billion budget.
The Illinois Office of Broadband, which is in the planning stages for the following two years, will distribute funds locally. During that period, the state will coordinate, but local organizations will need to identify their unique needs and what’s best for them. Brandon stated, “We have to give them a vision and let them know where the holes (inaccessibility) are. Federal initiatives aimed at “digital literacy” and inclusivity that focus on the adoption and use of broadband are another source of financing, she continued.
Regarding the financial options, Clark remarked that they were “like a puzzle.” The good news is that we can find all these intriguing components to make it all function. The county’s next step is to ask consultants for proposals so they may investigate the availability of broadband and/or other internet services and assess the demands for present and future technologies, among other things.