News from the ITA

September 21, 2020

 

Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology Issues Solicitation for E-Rate Last Mile and WAN Fiber Circuits

On Friday, the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) released an e-rate solicitation to Internet Service Providers for last mile and WAN fiber circuits. Last year, DoIT announced that it was waiving service charges for public K-12 schools and would provide all traditional services as well as new security services at no cost. 

The Illinois Century Network (ICN) has discontinued participating as a USAC E-rate Service Provider and DoIT formed a consortium acting as an E-rate applicant on behalf of all the public K-12 schools in the consortia. Under the arrangement, the ICN will provide backbone Internet service and the agency will rely on existing service providers for last mile connections and transport. 

Vendors interested in DoIT’s E-rate Last Mile and WAN Fiber Circuits solicitation should review the solicitation in BidBuy (https://www.bidbuy.illinois.gov/bso/) to receive all official information about it, including notices, solicitation documents, and amendments.  The solicitation’s reference number and title is: 21-448DOIT-TELEC- B-17115 – E-rate Last Mile and WAN Fiber Circuits.   


Broadband Advisory Council Update

The Broadband Advisory Council held a regular open meeting September 15. Acting Chairman of the BAC and Director of the Illinois Office of Broadband, Matt Schmit, provided and overview of several initiatives from the Office of Broadband. He reviewed the status of the Connect Illinois broadband grant program, including the round one grant awards and the upcoming round two of the grant program. 

Connect Illinois awarded $50 million in state grants to 22 entities providing an additional $65 million in matching funds bringing the total investment in broadband networks to $115 million in the first round. Schmit said he anticipates the Notice of Funding Opportunity for round two to be released in early October with the application due date likely to be in December. He explained that the timing allows the Connect Illinois program to "bookend" the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction so providers have a better sense of their obligations and commitments through the various grant programs when submitting an application.

Schmit also provided an update on the state broadband mapping initiative. The Office of Broadband has contracted with Connected Nation to create and update a broadband service map for the state. Connected Nation will be contacting service providers for data in the coming weeks. Connected Nation provided an overview of its mapping initiative to ITA members during the recent ITA Annual Meeting. Their presentation is available on the ITA website.

Schmit also discussed the issue of digital equity and provided a brief update on the status of the Illinois Connected Communities grant program and legislation requiring the Broadband Advisory Council (BAC) to study broadband affordability and report its findings to the General Assembly by Dec. 31, 2020. He said he would like to find an academic partner to assist with the study. The BAC may schedule an additional meeting in November to discuss the status of the study and the report would be reviewed and voted on by the BAC at its December 16 regular open meeting.


Broadband Telecom Headlines

CenturyLink rebrands as Lumen Technologies (FierceTelecom)

Jessica Rosenworcel could be the FCC chair under Biden. She certainly sounds the part. (protocol)

FCC pushes telehealth connectivity with Connected Care pilot program (mHEALTH INTELLIGENCE)