Whiteside County commits $3 million for broadband internet

The Whiteside County Board approved a $3 million commitment to the internet Co-op
The Whiteside County Board approved a $3 million commitment to the internet Co-op(kwqc/Sand Prairie)
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:15 PM CDT
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WHITESIDE CO., Ill (KWQC) - The Whiteside County board unanimously approved a multi-million dollar plan to expand fiber optic internet on Tuesday.

The board approved a $3 million commitment to internet provider Sand Praire and their plan to provide broadband internet access to 100% of underserved and unserved parts of the county.

Currently, 21,000 people live in the unincorporated parts of Whiteside County which fall under those categories. According to officials, the project will cost about $70 million.

All of this is part of a grant proposal dedicated to expanding internet access to rural communities.

The county’s portion will come out of its American Rescue Plan Act funds. The Elizabeth, Illinois-based Internet Co-op will also commit funds along with the county to make up for 25% of the project. State and federal funds will make up the other 75%.

The county’s Economic Development Director, Gary Camarano said this will allow people more access to entertainment, healthcare and employment.

“This is huge. This is a game changer for the county,” Camarano said. “This is the equivalent of the railroad coming to town over the 19th century ... This is the equivalent of the interstate highway system after World War Two.”

If Sand Prairie receives the full grant, they will lay about 1,000 miles of fiber optic cable, over the next five years.