SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN/KMOX) – Sixteen states will share nearly $104 million in grants and loans to improve broadband internet access in rural areas. One of the largest sums is coming to Illinois.
David Villano with the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the Wabash Telephone Cooperative, based in Clay County’s Louisville, will receive about 22 million to install 777 miles of fiber-optic cable. That’ll affect about 2,400 of its customers. Villano says broadband is imperative for job growth in rural areas.
“Everybody in rural America is important,” he says. “There are great opportunities for jobs in rural communities, and it’s a good place for major companies to look for employees with teleworking and remote working. It’s an excellent workforce.”
Villano says those seeking broadband access should be able to get speeds up to three megabits per second. He says what used to be top of the line, 1.5 megabit DSL service, no longer cuts it.
“If you want to operate a business for healthcare, for… you know, families that have one or two computers, 1.5 megabits isn’t going to be sufficient,” he explains. “Particularly for the type of applications people are moving more and more to.”
Villano says the money is available immediately. The loan’s term and interest rate depends on the type of project.