Introduction to the Issue

Illinois has been allocated over $1 billion of federal broadband funding as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. There are two separate programs:

  • The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program is aimed at getting households and community anchor institutions like libraries connected to high-speed internet.
  • The Digital Equity Act supports digital inclusion projects aimed at helping Illinois residents access affordable internet service as well as devices, training, and other support.

All of this funding will help Illinois residents do more activities online including accessing services related to business, education, telehealth, community safety, and more.

As a recipient, the State of Illinois is required to put plans in place to address unserved or underserved communities. Libraries and staff from RAILS member libraries have the opportunity to participate in these plans and provide critical feedback that will impact the funding going forward.

Libraries are a critical factor in the implementation of these plans, and we encourage staff from RAILS member libraries to review them and advocate for the services that you currently provide and any capacity-building needs you may have.

RAILS fully expects more broadband funding opportunities for libraries in the future. Libraries that are interested in applying for these funds should follow the Illinois Office of Broadband and the Illinois Broadband Lab. For questions, please reach out to RAILS Director of Technology Services Anne Slaughter, 630.734.5127.

To learn more about the funding, please watch a presentation from Anne Slaughter at the RAILS Member Update held on November 15, 2023:

News Articles

Get Involved

To help keep libraries informed on issues related to broadband and libraries, RAILS, CARLI, and IHLS have launched

Affordable Connectivity Program

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federally funded program that has offered a monthly benefit to eligible households. Without urgent congressional funding, ACP will run out of funds, most likely at the end of April 2024.

Wind-Down Resources

The Illinois Office of Broadband has shared some resources for libraries that are impacted by the wind-down.

Please feel free to distribute the following information and attached materials widely in your communities:

Advocacy Resources

For libraries that are interested in helping to advocate for the continuation of this program please visit:

BEAD Mapping Challenge

The Federal Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program Challenge Process gives Illinoisans an opportunity to ensure the state’s broadband map reflects the most up-to-date broadband access across the state. Your participation is essential, as the updated map will determine which locations are eligible for broadband expansion funding.

What you can do now:

For more information and resources, visit the Illinois Department of Commerce BEAD Challenge web page.