Broadband

Access to fast internet is a growing concern among communities in Illinois that currently don't have a high speed internet connection.

State Representative Natalie Phelps-Finnie of Elizabethtown is sponsoring legislation that would look at ways to provide broadband internet to the rural parts of the state.

Nearly 90,000 students in schools across Illinois do not have access to high-speed internet, preventing them from participating in modern classroom activities like taking online tests or classes and browsing the internet.

Legislation announced Wednesday would set aside $16.3 million to help fund the installation of fiberoptic cables for high-speed internet in about 100 districts. The one-time state payment could be matched with roughly $47 million in federal funds.

High-speed Internet service might seem common for many, but it's still a luxury for some Illinois residents living in rural areas.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that 13 percent of the state had no broadband access, other than satellite and cellular offerings, at the end of 2011 under minimums set by the Federal Communications Commission.

But rural electric and telephone co-ops across the state have begun extending fiber-optic broadband.