Brothers and Sisters!
Hopefully by now you have heard of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or more commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This Act includes an unprecedented investment of $65 billion to help close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband. The largest grant program of this Act is the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) which appropriates $42.45 billion for states and territories to utilize for broadband deployment, mapping, and adoption projects. While the amount of BEAD funding each state/territory receives will vary, Illinois is to receive $1.04 billion. The funding is being distributed based on a formula that considers the number of unserved locations (those below 25/3Mbps), followed by underserved locations (those below 100/20Mbps), and then serving community anchor institutions (1/1 Gbps). To know if your household is an unserved location or an underserved location, the Illinois Broadband Lab has published its BEAD Program Challenge Map. You can explore the map here: bead.connectednation.org Illinoisans can also use this map to check the availability of broadband at locations in their communities.
Unfortunately, so many of us are using slow, unreliable, or overpriced internet. Others only have access to satellite internet. All of which are frustrating, but the BEAD program has the potential to forever change it all. And the good part…it has I.B.E.W. written all over it! The BEAD Program includes labor standards that truly encourage using Unions. It requires coordination with Unions and prioritizes developers who comply with federal labor law. All of which should mean more work for I.B.E.W. members because this is work, we perform every day! But first we need your help. We need each member to test the speed of your internet connection (unless you use satellite internet). Without testing the speed, we can’t ensure that the map is accurate. If the map isn’t accurate then the funding dollars won’t go where they are needed the most.
Here are the instructions…
• Step 1: Test your speed at BEADchallenge.org
• Step 2: Complete the information fields requested, including your address and the speed you currently subscribe to.
• Step 3: Repeat Step 2 two more times, on separate days.
It’s free. It’s quick. It’s simple. Take the speed test three times on three separate days and submit each along with your information. Once that is completed, search your location again on the map. View the type of service available and whether the location is considered eligible or ineligible for BEAD funding. If any of the information you see is incorrect, please let us, or any other permissible challenger know (permissible challengers are – units of local government, non-profit organizations, and internet service providers). If you use satellite internet or use cellular data (hotspot) there’s no need to take the speed tests. All you need to do is search for your location on the map and make sure your information is correct. The challenge process is only open for a limited amount of time, so completing the tests, reviewing your location on the map for accuracy, and notifying a permissible challenger of any inaccuracies in a timely manner will ensure there is time to submit a challenge on your behalf. As a non-profit organization registered as a challenger, I.B.E.W. Local Union 702 is asking for any inaccuracies to be reported to us no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday February 9, 2024. Contact your Business Representative or Brad Beisner at 618-553-0422.
You’re welcome to share this with anyone who resides in Illinois. The more Illinoisans that complete the speed tests and check the map, the more accurate the map will be.
Thank you in advance for your time, effort, and dedication to ensuring the map is accurate so that Illinoisans can have the best internet possible, and I.B.E.W. members can bring it to them.