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The Champaign City Council is deciding at their meeting on Tuesday at 7pm whether to accept $22.5 million federal grant already awarded to the two cities and the University for creating jobs and building internet connectivity in our community. If you support the deployment of a municipal broadband network in Champaign-Urbana, please consider contacting your city council member to express your support of the plan. Attached is a .doc file containing contact information and a sample correspondence. Whether or not Champaign accepts the grant funds has a strong bearing on whether federal stimulus money under the Broadband Opportunities Program will be used to create jobs in both Champaign and Urbana or provide essential services to underserved parts of our community. Our acceptance of this money also has a strong bearing on the viability of our round 2 funding proposal for community centers, libraries, and schools. Additional, it may have a bearing on Champaign-Urbana's viability for Google's fiber to the home project and future federal stimulus grants.
Project description from the NTIA press release below:
The Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband project plans to construct 187 miles of fiber-optic broadband network to provide high-speed connectivity to area community anchor institutions and support fiber-to-the-home services in four low-income neighborhoods. Known as a leader in computer networking technology, the University of Illinois plans to bring its experience to bear as it works to close the digital divide in Urbana-Champaign. The project will directly connect 143 anchor institutions, including 40 K-12 schools, 17 social service agencies, 14 healthcare facilities, nine youth centers, four public library systems, and two higher education institutions. A majority of these institutions expect to receive their first high-speed Internet connection via this project. The project proposes to create a fiber-to-the-home pilot project for 2,500 low-income households to purchase an affordable high-speed Internet service plan from commercial providers. In addition, the project expects to spur affordable broadband Internet access for local consumers, including up to 50,000 households and 3,700 businesses, by enabling local Internet service providers to connect to the project's open network.