FCC’s Fabric Challenge process is an important part of getting a good card, the agency says:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2022 – According to state officials, collaboration with federal, academic, community and industry partners is critical to the accuracy of Illinois’ broadband mapping initiative.

At a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event on Wednesday, a panel from the Illinois Broadband Lab explained that its work is inextricably linked to the efforts of institutions and individuals who provide crucial data, funding and commentary.

Robbie McBeathcoordinator of programs and communications for the IBL and head of outreach at the Benton Institute broadband policy institute, said the topic of discussion was “…the success of the comprehensive and collaborative approach of Illinois”.

Attendees at the event stressed the importance of community feedback and engagement, saying the expert knowledge of local leaders is key to correcting oversights and mistakes that are inevitable in the mapping process. Officials also credited academic partners — such as the University of Illinois and the Purdue Center for Regional Development — and industry partners who provide data and analysis.

Broadband mapping is “essential” to identify and help underserved and unserved areas and communities, says Shubhika Agarwal, the IBL Mapping and Broadband Data Coordinator. Agarwal said Illinois is partnering with Connected Nation to generate maps, after which the state seeks public comment.

Benton discussed the Accelerate Illinois initiative, a 14-week “boot camp” in which experts “…follow [county-level leaders] of a “broadband 101” by doing things like data mapping and surveys. »

matt schmitdirector of the Illinois Office of Broadband, said his team encourages local experimentation and innovation in broadband and tries to facilitate those efforts whenever possible.

In 2019, Illinois launched Connect Illinoisa $420 million broadband infrastructure initiative, and officials said the state is also taking advantage of the Federal Capital Projects Fund and the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act .

“I can’t stress enough that it’s this combination of state initiative and upfront investment…plus federal investment that is going to help us achieve our goals. So this scale of funding is absolutely critical in this environment,” Schmit said.

In order to receive funds from the IIJA, Schmit said, states are required to extend coverage to all underserved households. Since the passage of Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technology Availability Act in 2020, the Federal Communications Commission launched its own mapping initiative—expected this fall—on which IIJA funds depend.

Still, the panel stressed the importance of its own work — which it says is more localized and precise — in gathering the data needed to submit federal funds.

Other states taking their own mapping initiative

Illinois isn’t the only state working on a mapping initiative. The Washington State Broadband Office has its own maps, which it says were created using a “community discussion” approach. Indiana and Colorado also use community feedback-based mapping approaches.

Meanwhile, Utah officials have said their own cards are ready for federal funding, while Texas recently signed a deal with data company LightBox – a Broadband Breakfast sponsor – to help build its cards.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022, 12 p.m. ET – Summer of Broadband: Illinois

State Broadband Offices will play a critical role in rolling out the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Agenda. During the months of July and August, Broadband Breakfast will take the pulse of state-level broadband efforts during visits to half a dozen states across the country. On August 24, Broadband Breakfast editor and publisher Drew Clark will return to Lincoln Country to speak with those now responsible for running the Illinois office on broadband in preparation for the BEAD program of the IIJA.

Speakers:

Panelist Resources:

matt schmit is currently director of the Illinois Office of Broadband, where integrating 21st century infrastructure and service delivery is a major focus of his work and research. He previously served as a senator in his home state of Minnesota, and has served on numerous legislative councils on broadband deployment, transportation policy and investment, and community development and economic. In addition, Mr. Schmit has served on the Cook County Council on Digital Equity (CODE), the Board of Directors of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), the Board of Directors of Blandin Broadband Strategies, St John’s University Board of Regents and the Legislative Water Commission; represented Minnesota on the Nuclear Energy Task Force and Commerce Committee of the National Conference of State Legislators; and was an active member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators and State Agricultural and Rural Leaders.

Shubhika Agarwal has a background in urban planning and participates in the Illinois Digital Equity Grant Programs – Illinois Connected Communities and the Accelerate Illinois Broadband Infrastructure Planning program. It helps build capacity around broadband planning by sharing broadband access and adoption and state and federal data resources; and supports broadband planning efforts by analyzing actual broadband speeds, usage and satisfaction levels through broadband surveys. She is also working with state mapping partners to create more accurate broadband maps and data layers to position Illinois to use federal funding most effectively for broadband deployment in places. unserved and underserved across the state.

Adrienne Pickett, Ph.D. (she) joined the Illinois Broadband Lab in June 2022 as Program and Curriculum Coordinator. She is a program manager for the Illinois Broadband Regional Engagement for Adoption & Digital Equity (READY) program and has developed educational materials on digital equity and community engagement planning. In this role, she works closely with recipients of state digital equity grants to analyze demographics, identify community assets, connect with community anchor institutions, and promote broadband adoption. . In addition, she leads the onboarding of new Broadband Fellows from Illinois Extension and American Connection Corps. She obtained a doctorate. in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition to her work on broadband equity, she is an online speaker on educational leadership for full-time educators.

Robbie McBeath recently joined the Illinois Broadband Lab where he will lead the Accelerate Illinois Broadband Infrastructure Planning program. and continue to publish the biweekly Illinois Broadband Connections newsletter. He is also currently the Outreach Manager for the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, overseeing the marketing and outreach of Benton’s publications and managing the organization’s social media presence. Prior to joining the Benton Institute in 2014, he interned at the FCC and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Open Media Foundation in Denver, CO. He earned a degree in media studies from the University of Illinois in 2013.

Drew Clark is the editor and publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings together experts and practitioners to advance the benefits offered by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he spearheaded a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also president of the Congress of Rural Telecommunications.

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