Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Illinois Broadband Leaders to Meet in Urbana to Address Bringing Broadband to Rural Illinois

Digital Future Brings Opportunities for Jobs, Education, Health Care

URBANA, Illinois – Jobs, education and the challenges of bringing broadband to rural Illinois will be among the topics of the Central Illinois Regional Broadband Summit on Wednesday, October 12 at the University of Illinois.

National and statewide leaders and elected officials will come together at the summit, sponsored by Partnership for a Connected Illinois (PCI), to review public and private investment in broadband and high-speed internet, and to discuss opportunities for the future. Representatives of two broadband projects in central Illinois, the Illinois Century Network and Urbana Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B), will share progress reports and detail the ways the investments can make a significant difference in the lives of people both locally and statewide.

Companies that have made significant investments in broadband will also participate in the summit, including AT&T, Champaign Telephone Company, Comcast, Consolidated Communications, and Frontier Communications. Representatives of each company will highlight their investments in broadband and discuss their views on how citizens and communities can benefit from access to broadband and high-speed internet.

Featured speakers will include Rep. Connie Howard (D-Chicago) the sponsor of legislation creating the Illinois Century Network; Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign); Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana); and Kevin Johnson of the office of U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL). At the summit, Representative Howard will be recognized for her leadership efforts to eliminate the digital divide in Illinois.

“Illinois is in a race with other states and nations to develop broadband and high-speed internet in our communities,” said Drew Clark, executive director of PCI.

“Broadband and high speed internet are among the most significant infrastructure investments of our time, equating to improved health care, more jobs and a better education for our citizens,” said Clark. “Better broadband means better lives,” Clark added. ”Investments in broadband are vital to help our communities prosper, to help people live longer and healthier lives, and to bring essential education programs to areas that are currently economically disadvantaged.”

The Central Illinois Regional Broadband Summit will be held on Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), 1205 W. Clark St., Urbana, on the campus of the University of Illinois. PCI held similar earlier this year in Naperville and Carbondale. Following is a schedule of related events, all of which will be at the NCSA:

9:00 a.m - Noon – Research Symposium featuring Broadband Researchers
1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. – Central Illinois Regional Broadband Summit

On Thursday morning, the Governor’s Broadband Deployment Council will meet from 9:00 a.m. until Noon, also at the NCSA. Two remote participation sites for the BDC meeting are also open to the public, one in Springfield and the other in Chicago.

Both days events will be streamed live on the internet via PCI's website.

Additional information about the summit and related events, including registration information, can be found on PCI’s website, http://www.broadbandillinois.org. The registration page is http://broadbandillinois.org/calendar/1.

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