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The State of Illinois will contribute $7 million toward a $22 million Shawnee Communications broadband expansion project in unserved and underserved areas in the southern part of the state. The funding comes through the Connect Illinois program.

More than 2,550 residents in Mitchellsville, Rudement, Buncombe, Vienna, Pulleys Mill and Goreville will get broadband via a FTTH network. They are in Saline, Johnson and Williamson counties. Some residents will get service this year, with project completion slated for 2023.

The Connect Illinois program was funded by the 2019 Capital Development initiative. The goal of the program is to deliver statewide high speed Internet by 2028. The program has a $400 million budget.

Shawnee Communications focuses on the southern part of the state. “This partnership brings greater broadband equity, enhanced access to critical health care and employment, and student access to speeds and the reliability necessary for education, especially in these difficult times,” Shawnee Communications CEO Mike Grisham said in a tweeted press release.

Public private projects, such as the Shawnee Communications Connect Illinois project, account for 8 percent of what are termed “well served” municipally-enabled projects, according to a report released last July by consulting firm Altman Solon. The other 92% of well-served municipalities get broadband from private service providers.

The report found, however, that public and hybrid networks may be a viable way to bring broadband to communities that are not well served. If so, there is a big market, since the Altman Salon said that there are 6,500 such communities in the United States.

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