January 5, 2023

FCC Broadband Map Challenge for Illinois

iFiber encourages you to share this information with your residential or business contacts who may still need access to high-speed Internet in Illinois. K-12 schools, please consider forwarding this State of Illinois invitation or the FCC link to parents of enrolled students. The deadline is Jan. 13, 2023.
The FCC National Broadband Maps contain federal mappings of high-speed internet availability in Illinois—and there is a short window of opportunity to improve the internet availability reported for Illinois in these maps. The more improvements we can collectively make to the maps before Jan. 13, 2023, the more federal funds Illinois can potentially receive to close the digital divide.
Guide to helping expand access to high-speed Internet in Illinois
Do you, your family or business have access to reliable high-speed Internet? If not, please take a moment, and follow these steps to check the information in FCC maps, and if necessary, submit a challenge if that information can be made more accurate:
Search for your address at BroadbandMap.fcc.gov
  1. Click on the setting icon and under Technologies, check the box labeled “All Wired and Licensed Fixed Wireless” to select for reliable broadband technologies.
  2. Is the location information wrong? Click “Location Challenge.”
  3. Are any Internet services listed not available? Click “Availability Challenge.”
  4. Want to submit your information to the state and have a representative submit challenges on your behalf? Fill out a questionnaire.
Helpful resources
August 10, 2022

Important iFiber Information

iFiber is sharing the following information as part of its ongoing commitment to providing excellent customer service, including equipment maintenance.
  • Please don’t work in the cabinet, enclosure, and/or equipment labeled as iFiber. This could accidentally cause service interruptions in your location and could impact others as well. Call NIMC at 877-753-8100 or e-mail nimc@niu.edu if you notice damage to the equipment/enclosures, or have questions about anything that looks out of place.
  • Contact sales@ifiber.org and/or your local iFiber Outreach specialist if you are aware of, or are planning, any construction to your building or property. iFiber will investigate and determine if this could impact the connection or equipment. As a reminder, only iFiber contractors are allowed to relocate iFiber cable, enclosures, and equipment.
  • iFiber engineers work to maintain the iFiber equipment remotely. Unless instructed by an iFiber engineer/Outreach specialist, please do not unplug or attempt to connect to any iFiber equipment.
  • If you find that your Internet services are running slow consistently, contact sales@ifiber.org and let us help. iFiber provides your connection to the world via fiber. Individual services (such as Internet or phone service) are via a third party ISP. If anything is partially working (e.g. the Internet works, but is just slow), it’s quickest to start with whoever provides that service. iFiber will always support customer concerns; however,most often there is an issue with the service and not the fiber lines. Fiber is one of the most stable connection types and iFiber is committed to doing a great job managing its services. iFiber also can provide bandwidth reports to show you how your service is used and help you make an informed decision.
  • iFiber is a community-based, not-for-profit organization with an Open Access fiber system in your area. iFiber has low-cost solutions for both public and private entities. High-speed networks are crucial to the future of northwest Illinois communities.
June 15, 2022

Electronic Waste Recycling Offered to iFiber Customers

iFiber is pleased to share information about a not-for-profit organization, PCs for People (501(c)(3), a national leader in IT Asset Disposition. PCs for People will work with iFiber Community Anchor Institutions interested in donating excess computers and other electronic items for recycling or data destruction. Recycled computers are refurbished and distributed back into the community to support equal access to technology for low-income families.
PCs for People currently is supporting an effort in Whiteside County, IL, partnering with the Whiteside Area Career Center to give away 500 computers to low-income individuals. Members of PCs for People’s governing board have advised participants in the Accelerate Illinois program.
PCs for Peopleoffers asset pickup and removal, asset label/tag removal, certified drive removal and data sanitization, environmentally-responsible recycling or refurbishing, and detailed reporting with certificates of destruction. Please note: minimum quantities apply for pickup service.
PCs for People accepts computers & accessories, home entertainment equipment, servers & data center equipment, mobile devices, and office items. See the attached flyer (PDF) for more details: pcs-for-people-electronic-recycling-2022
Potential Supplier Partners:Organizations interested in contributing “retired” computers to PCs for People, should contact Loren Williams, Account Executive-ITAD Services, (lwilliams@pcsforpeople.org) or visit PC for People’s website: https://www.pcsforpeople.org/ewaste-pickup-and-removal/.
March 29, 2022

April is Safe Digging Month; iFiber Reminds Homeowners to Call 811

Four Steps to Every Safe Excavation Project

Illinois Fiber Resources Group, NFP (iFiber) joins JULIE, Inc., in recognizing April is National Safe Digging Month.

Homeowners and professional excavators in Illinois are reminded to call JULIE, Inc. (JULIE) at 8-1-1 before every digging project this spring, regardless of the size or depth. This is a free call and service.

JULIE’s helpful call center agents are available to receive and process requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 8-1-1. E-Request is also a convenient option for homeowners who prefer to enter their own utility locate requests via www.JULIEBeforeYouDig.com.

When calling 8-1-1, homeowners and contractors are connected to JULIE, Inc., the Illinois One-Call System, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both. Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first contacting JULIE.

Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree or garden are all examples of digging projects that require a call to JULIE.

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists. For more information on safe digging techniques, visit www.JULIEBeforeYouDig.com and follow “@JULIE1call” on Facebook and Twitter.

iFiber is committed to excellence in serving new and existing customers with its open-access fiber broadband network throughout Northwestern Illinois. iFiber is a provider of 21st Century high-speed (up to 10Gb) network transport services to both the public and private sector in Northwest Illinois and beyond. It is a mid-mile network offering the opportunity to connect with long-haul networks serving a broad and diverse region.

March 23, 2022

iFiber Team Committed to Excellence with Open-Access Fiber Broadband

Board and staff members directing the operations of iFiber and Fiber Ventures (iFiber’s for-profit arm) recently met in person for a planning retreat. Operations and board meetings mostly have been handled virtually during the COVID pandemic. The retreat allowed team members to discuss future plans as iFiber continues its commitment to excellence in serving new and existing customers with its open-access fiber broadband network throughout Northwestern Illinois. Board and team members also proudly modeled new iFiber-logo pullover shirts at the retreat.

March 15, 2022

iFiber/JULIE 811 Board of Directors Represented at CGA Conference & Expo

Jen Uridil-Dolman, Project Manager/IT Technical Associate for NIU/iFiber Broadband, will represent JULIE 811 Board of Directors and iFiber at the 2022 Common Ground Alliance Conference and Expo in Anaheim, CA, April 5-8, at the Anaheim Marriott.
The CGA Conference & Expo is a premier event for damage prevention industry stakeholders to network, share knowledge, and learn about the latest industry technologies and information.
iFiber is committed to underground infrastructure damage prevention through its partnership with JULIE 811. If you live anywhere in Illinois, you are required by law to have underground utility lines marked before you dig. Call 811…it’s easy and FREE.
The CGA event will feature integrated committee meetings, industry-leading speakers, carefully curated breakout sessions and discussion groups, an interactive exhibit hall, and networking events and opportunities. Most importantly, this event will facilitate the development of concrete actions the industry can take to help reduce damages. The CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. For more details, visit www.cgaconference.com.
March 14, 2022

Whiteside County among Inaugural Accelerate Illinois Program Cohorts

SPRINGFIELD – Whiteside County is among six communities selected to participate in the
inaugural cohort of the Accelerate Illinois Broadband Infrastructure Planning Program. Team members from the Illinois Fiber Resources Group, NFP (iFiber) are playing an integral role in initiating the program in Whiteside County.
Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
(DCEO) Office of Broadband announced the selected communities in a press release dated
Feb. 24, 2022. The announcement was made in collaboration with Heartland Forward and the
Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. The other five inaugural participants are the City of Springfield, Jackson County, Knox County, Mercer County, and the Village of Elsah.
iFiber team members serving on Whiteside County’s steering committee helping to implement the program are Marc Thorson, Executive Director, Regional Technology Services, NIU/iFiber, and Daniel Payette, Executive Director, Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, and a member of the iFiber Outreach Team.
The 14-week intensive training program will help leaders from participating communities
develop broadband plans responsive to their unique local needs and position them to effectively leverage newly available state and federal broadband infrastructure funding. Whiteside County and other participants are launching community surveys to gather input and data from local residents and stakeholders to help shape their plans.
“Whiteside County needs a comprehensive plan to bring reliable, high-speed internet to our
students and families across our community,” said Joel Horn, County Administrator of Whiteside
County. “We’re grateful to be part of the Accelerate Illinois program, which will give us an
opportunity to help our institutions, agencies and organizations develop a plan to get our residents connected.”
Numerous organizations are participating in Whiteside County’s Accelerate program. Each has
a representative on the Whiteside County Accelerate Steering Team (WCAST). Participants
include three broadband infrastructure and service providers – iFiber, JoCarroll Energy, and
Surf Broadband. Both iFiber and JoCarroll Energy are not-for-profit organizations; Surf Broadband is a for-profit organization.
WCAST organizations include: Surf Broadband, ROE 47, Blackhawk Hills Regional Council,
Greater Sterling Development Corporation, Sauk Valley Chamber of Commerce, NIU Regional
Technology Services/iFiber, Sauk Valley Community College, SBDC at SVCC, Whiteside
County Health Department, Whiteside County, Whiteside County Administrator’s Office,
Whiteside County Economic Development, Whiteside County Farm Bureau, JoCarroll Energy,
Whiteside County Senior Center, and Tri-County Opportunities Council.
In the press release, Gov. Pritzker stated that broadband infrastructure is only as useful as it is
accessible to the people who need it. The state is partnering with local jurisdictions to develop broadband plans responsive to their unique local needs.
“Thanks to our Connect Illinois initiative and federal funding on the way from President Biden’s
infrastructure plan, there’s never been more potential to reach our goal of closing the digital
divide here in Illinois,” he said. “I’m grateful to Heartland Forward, the Benton Institute and all
our partners on the Accelerate Illinois program working to ensure communities across our state are prepared to utilize this funding effectively.”
With the recent passage of the $1 trillion federal infrastructure plan, Illinois communities stand
poised to receive historic funding for the expansion of broadband infrastructure. This is in
addition to Governor Pritzker’s bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan which dedicated $420
million to broadband expansion as well as funds made available through the American Rescue
Plan Act (ARPA). Accelerate Illinois aims to level the playing field and support cities and
counties of all sizes and staffing levels to apply for these funds and plan to most effectively implement them in their communities.
The Accelerate Illinois program is offered through a collaborative effort between the Illinois
Office of Broadband, the Illinois-based Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, and the University of Illinois Extension as well as funding by Heartland Forward.
The training is designed to guide communities through the process of establishing and
implementing a full-scale broadband connectivity vision. With more than 30 hours of no-cost
expert counsel provided by the Benton Institute, the program provides structured education and
engagement for communities to identify broadband goals, gather information and analyze
opportunities, understand available funding options, and target capital dollars to support implementation.
A core component of the program is the community survey to gather information from local residents, businesses, and community stakeholders about their current use of broadband and satisfaction with existing services. Accelerate program participants will gather input through both online and paper surveys. The online survey process will include a link to an internet speed test to show current broadband speeds and provide visual evidence of whether existing providers need to upgrade services or new providers should come in to meet the state’s broadband goals.
The Accelerate Illinois Notice of Collaboration originally opened in December as a pilot program
to serve up to 12 communities as part of this initiative. Six of the 12 communities have started in this cohort.
In addition to the first cohort of six communities, there will be a second cohort of Accelerate Illinois communities will be announced later this spring. For more information, visit the DCEO website.
February 8, 2022

Gov. Pritzker Announces $47 Million in Broadband Capital Investments

SPRINGFIELD – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband recently announced $47 million in funding for 22 projects in every region of the state through the second round of Connect Illinois, the state’s broadband expansion plan.

To promote broadband access, the Illinois Office of Broadband is making $350 million in funding available through a third round of grants, which will be accepted and awarded on a rolling basis through 2024, or until funds are depleted. Funding for Connect Illinois is made possible by Governor Pritzker’s bipartisan $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital plan, the first comprehensive infrastructure program in Illinois in nearly a decade, as well as federal broadband funding available through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Round Two funding includes $23 million in Connect Illinois grant awards matched by $24 million in non-state funding for a total of over $47 million, with plans to expand broadband access to approximately 13,000 homes, businesses, farms, and community institutions across Illinois – through 22 new projects, with at least one in every region of the state.

“Thanks to these investments, thousands more families and businesses will have access to the economic opportunity, education, and healthcare that come with 21st century connectivity,” said Pritzker. “Connect Illinois is all about opening doors and closing gaps for our residents, delivering demonstrable change to people’s lives and real opportunity for new business development and new jobs. I’m grateful to our partners in making this round of projects possible – and with another $350 million already available for the next round, this impact is just the beginning.”

The second round of Connect Illinois grant awards includes 14 different internet service providers, rural cooperatives, and local governments– a diverse group of recipients representing every region of the state, with projects supporting fully scalable broadband infrastructure that will serve these areas for decades into the future.

Round Two Grant Awards:

Adams Telsystem Inc.                      $1,252,041   Adams, Pike
Bspeedy Wireless                             $152,108     Richland, Edwards, Jasper, Wabash, Lawrence,
Century Enterprises                           $215,120  Knox
Charter Spectrum – Bella Vista          $29,555  Madison
Charter Spectrum – Briars                  $99,556  St Clair
Charter Spectrum – Equus Lane        $109,320  Madison
Charter Spectrum – Huey                   $107,416  Clinton
Charter Spectrum – New Minden       $250,198  Washington
Charter Spectrum – Nichols Woods   $50,750  Winnebago, Clay, Crawford, Wayne
Clearwave                                          $500,000  Saline, Williamson, Johnson
Comcast – Leisure Time Est               $630,903  Vermilion
Comcast – Sterling                              $595,300  Whiteside
East Moline CUSD                             $1,706,494  Rock Island, Henry
Jo-Carroll Energy                               $4,688,840  Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside
Mediacom – Dewey                            $117,054  Champaign
Mediacom – Valley View Est              $52,434  Rock Island
Mediacom – Wolf Creek                     $45,905  LaSalle
Metro Communications                      $292,118  Livingston
ProTek Communications                   $2,000,000  Williamson
Strada Communications                    $5,000,000  Rock Island, Whiteside
Village of Palatine                              $101,387  Cook
WKT Telecom Cooperative                $5,000,000  Union, Pulaski

“Connect Illinois grants continue to help expand broadband infrastructure across the state, bringing resources to communities that need it most,” said Acting DCEO Director, Sylvia I. Garcia. “We are investing in meaningful capital projects to provide high-speed, reliable internet to households and businesses that have lacked access – boosting education, jobs, and economic opportunity for communities across Illinois in the process.”

Grant applications were reviewed and evaluated on a competitive basis, with proposals evaluated in seven categories: project impact; nonstate match and demonstration of need; community support; project readiness; project viability and sustainability; affordability and adoption assistance; and open access, shared use and business strategy.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled for the 400 households in the Village of Flanagan who will be connected to essential, high quality broadband,” said Rep. Tom Bennett. “This Rebuild Illinois investment is making an incredible impact on the everyday lives of families in my district.”

“We all know about children who are unable to complete schoolwork because internet access isn’t widely available,” said Rep. Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island). “Rebuild Illinois’ investment in East Moline School District to install a network of 985 wireless Wi-Fi access points will go a long way in making sure that a relic of the past.”

”We are very excited about the state’s continued commitment to broadband expansion throughout Illinois, especially in the southwestern region,” said Gary Hoelscher, President, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois. “Increasing equity in access, adoption, and use is an important step in ensuring people can pursue work and education opportunities despite other challenges they may face. Broadband growth also spurs economic development, which is a win for all.”

The $350 million available through the third round largely mirrors requirements of the first two notice of funding opportunities, with the exception that grant matching minimums will no longer be a requirement for applicants.  The program’s merit review process places value on qualified projects that also include significant nonstate match, thereby incentivizing applicants to contribute as much nonstate match as possible. To promote program efficiency and effectiveness, the maximum grant award will increase from $5 million to $10 million, with applicants invited to seek multiple grant awards over the next several years

“Through our participation in the Illinois Connected Communities program, we were given the tools and framework we needed to create a vision for our community’s broadband needs, and we’re happy our plan is coming to fruition,” said Village of Flanagan President Jeff Walace. “We look forward to working together with the State of Illinois and Metro Communications to bring high-speed broadband access to all our residents.”

To complement its historic $420 million broadband capital investment, the State of Illinois has introduced an increasingly robust portfolio of programs focused on local capacity building and planning (Illinois Connected Communities and Accelerate Illinois), regional engagement and resource integration (Broadband READY), digital literacy and skills building (Digital Navigators), and used computer refurbishment and distribution (Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network). These programs often combine state grant funding with stakeholder collaboration and expert consultation to put Illinois communities, organization, and households in a strong position to benefit from historic state and federal investment in broadband infrastructure and digital equity.

For more on Round 3 Connect Illinois, and Round 2 awards and other grant programs, please visit DCEO’s website or follow it on social at @IllinoisDCEO.