Community Internet's Future in Illinois At Stake with 2005 Legislative Fight

Get Illinois Online The costs of establishing high-speed internet networks has decreased considerably. And in the wake of a 2004 Supreme Court decision involving municipal rights at the state level, there has arisen a nationwide state-by-state struggle for establishing high-speed community internet at the municipal level.

One main question is: who controls the future of high-speed internet -- municipalities and communities which can work to make the internet an affordable public service, or big telecommunications companies like SBC and Comcast which would redline communities and inflate prices in the name of profit maximization?

That struggle has come to Illinois, with the hopes of averting the fate in fourteen states which have seen Big Telecom shut out municipal internet rights. The Illinois General Assembly will take up the question of Illinois' digital future with a 2005 rewrite of the main state law involving the internet -- The Illinois Telecommunications Act. One bill, Senate Bill 499 which would have killed municipal internet rights, has fortunately been delayed for the moment, though further Illinois anti-muni efforts are likely coming. Read more.

Two attempts in the past year in the tri-cities suburbs of Chicago lost due to Big Telecom lobbying and disinformation campaigns. But successful community internet efforts are nonetheless underway in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago's Lawndale neighborhood, and in all 79 branches of the Chicago Public Library.

Additional Resources: Get Illinois Online | Fiber For Our Future | Center for Neighborhood Technology | Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network | Muniwireless.com | Broadband Reports | Ministerial Alliance Against the Digital Divide | HearUsNow.org | Chicago Media Action alert

Additional Coverage: The NewStandard | Slashdot | PBS's NOW: Debating High-Speed Internet Access

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