Wabash Communications and State of Illinois Kick Off $3.2 Million Investment to Expand Broadband Connectivity for Unserved Parts of Clay County
Public-private partnership to lay the groundwork for 24 miles of fiberoptic cable and enhanced connections for 659 homes, businesses, farms and community anchors
Clay County, IL – The Wabash Communications Co-op (Wabash), a rural provider of telephone, high-speed internet, and other telecommunications services in South Central Illinois, today announced work began this week to expand high-speed internet services for underserved and unserved Illinois residents in the Clay County area.
Through a $3.2 million investment made in partnership with the State of Illinois, Wabash will kick off construction to bring fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service to currently unserved portions of Clay County. Over 24 miles of fiber will extend service capable of 1 Gigabit upload by 1 Gigabit download to 659 unserved households, businesses, farms, and community anchor institutions throughout the county.
“Wabash Communications Co-op is very fortunate to have this opportunity to better serve our region with much needed broadband expansion into areas that have little to no access to broadband,” said Barry Adair, General Manager of Wabash Communications Co-op. “This exciting opportunity for expanding will now help residents, farmers, and other small businesses grow and thrive with better connectivity, especially when staying connected is more crucial than ever. We understand that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to prosper, and that includes having access to high-quality broadband connectivity.”
Through its Connect Illinois public-private partnership with the State of Illinois, Wabash will extend high-speed broadband services to households, businesses, and farms in the grant area to improve access to critical school e-learning applications while also providing residents the opportunity to work from home. The broadband network will improve access to rural health care resources and will stimulate a more robust local area economy.
“Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, the Connect Illinois program sets forth an unprecedented investment over the next three years to deliver lasting broadband infrastructure enhancements that will support our businesses, communities and enhance quality of life for Illinoisans,” said DCEO Acting Director Sylvia Garcia. “We’re proud to partner with the Wabash Communications Co-op to expand access to digital capabilities that will support thousands of working families, businesses, farms, and community locations right here in Clay County. Their work to deliver 21st century broadband for the region brings us one step closer to closing the gap on access and providing more rural, urban and communities in between the tools needed to succeed in a 21st century economy.”
Through the public-private partnership, Wabash will invest over $1.6 million in the project, with matching funds provided by the State of Illinois, as part of Governor JB Pritzker’s historic Rebuild Illinois capital plan. Overall, Connect Illinois leverages $400 million in Rebuild Illinois funds to deliver high-speed internet access statewide, to all homes, business, and community anchor institutions. Connect Illinois is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Illinois Office of Broadband.
Wabash is one of over twenty projects currently funded through the Connect Illinois program, with state funds awarded to help spark long-term improvements that will benefit rural as well as urban communities over the next few years. All Connect Illinois investments call for minimum 100/20 Mbps service, with network infrastructure that can scale to meet service demands over time.
“For the residents of Clay City, access to reliable high speed internet service has been a challenge in our community—and became increasingly challenging as the pandemic has made internet a necessity for school, work and healthcare,” said Mayor Rod Franklin of Clay City. “Thanks to this public and private partnership, the investments being made by the State of Illinois through the Connect Illinois program and Wabash Communications, our community will be able to access broadband services and be connected with the tools needed in their everyday lives.
Wabash expects to begin providing service to its first customers under this partnership in 2021 and has committed to completing these projects by July 2022.