May 13, 2022 – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) met with Fairmont City Mayor Michael Suarez, Fairmont City Library Director Katie Heaton and Collinsville CUSD 10 Superintendent Dr. Mark B. Skertich on Friday, May 13, 2022 to discuss broadband access challenges in the community.
Suarez, Heaton and Skertich described ongoing connectivity issues resulting from lack of affordable, reliable broadband coverage from local providers. They also outlined solutions they’ve worked together to implement like the Private LTE Tower constructed by CUSD 10 at Kreitner Elementary School to allow students to have access at home using district devices.
Senator Duckworth listened intently and offered support, including information about existing programs to assist communities like Fairmont City. She also instructed her staff to work closely with the community leaders to address issues with internet providers.
Following the meeting, Senator Duckworth’s office issued the following press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2022
Contact: Gwen Pepin, Gwendolyn_Pepin@duckworth.senate.gov
Duckworth Meets with Broadband Advocates, Touts New Program to Reduce Internet Costs & Expand Access
[FAIRMONT CITY, IL] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today met with broadband expansion advocates in Fairmont City, including Mayor Michael Suarez, Library Director Katie Heaton and Collinsville Community Unit School District 10 Superintendent Brad Skertich to discuss her work to reduce broadband costs for working Illinoisans and highlight the newly announced Affordable Connectivity Program, which will help the more than 200,000 Illinoisans who currently lack broadband and help millions of low-income families afford internet access by reducing monthly bills by as much as $30, or $75 on Tribal lands. During the meeting, which comes during the same week broadband construction in Fairmont City began, Duckworth and the group also discussed the city’s recent success in securing broadband expansion for their underserved community after years of calling for equitable internet access. Photos from today’s meeting are available here.
“Showing up for Metro East communities means working to ensure everyone has access to reliable broadband—no matter their zip code,” Duckworth said. “I’m working on the federal level to do just that while helping Illinoisans keep more money in their pockets, so it was good to meet with Mayor Suarez and local officials about this new program. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, and with these leaders’ advocacy, we know that internet access is crucial for public health, education, quality of life and so much more. I’m proud that affordable, reliable connectivity is a priority in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and President Biden’s administration, and I will continue to call for cost-effective broadband for working families all across Illinois and our nation.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Duckworth secured multiple provisions in, will help Illinois expand broadband for working families. The Law allocates $42.45 billion to the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, which will make grants to states. As part of the Law, the Biden-Harris administration announced this week the Affordable Connectivity Program, which would lower eligible Americans’ internet service costs by up to $30/month or $75/month on Tribal lands.