Now that the broadband stimulus funding applications are in, it's not surprising to see that AT&T and Comcast have picked their latest fight with Illinois. According to an article in Chicago Business, an estimated five dozen public and private entities from the state, Chicago and Cook County have all applied for a piece of the $7.2 billion federal broadband stimulus funding grants.
Obviously, the incumbent carrier and cable company's fear is that a government-driven broadband provider could pose a threat to the comfy broadband monopoly the incumbents currently enjoy. And while AT&T and Comcast say the markets they reside in are already well served with broadband access, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services sees it differently. They argue that segments of the South side of Chicago up through the Southern tip of Illinois don't have any form of broadband access, can get nothing more than a dial up line or service is too expensive.
To bridge that gap, the state has applied for a $104 million federal stimulus grant that it can use to build its own statewide fiber network to serve schools and government agencies. Currently, Illinois rents network capacity from AT&T and other smaller service providers, a model the Department of Central Management Services says is is too costly to achieve statewide 21st-century information and communication capabilities.
- Chicago Business has this article
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