Funding map

A graphic of the breakdown of broadband internet funding.

A new study reveals how the U.S. government is allocating money to states to expand broadband access, including millions of dollars to Illinois.

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund has earmarked over $378 million dollars to the state in broadband funding. analyzed Phase 1 of the RDOF to get a clearer picture of the FCC’s plan by converting each state’s total funding to dollars per resident and rural resident.

“Twenty billion dollars is coming out of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund,” said research analyst Ameera Masud. “We thought it would be interesting to break down the population there and see if there is a clear strategy and if it’s fair.”

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed areas of downstate Illinois that need an upgrade in internet service with workers and students spending hours every day online.

Masud said the lack of reliable broadband is preventing some Illinoisans who want to work from home from moving to more rural areas of the state.

“If high-speed internet isn’t available, then it is not an option, and it does affect the economy to an extent for these smaller areas in states because they are missing out on an opportunity for more of an economic revival in rural areas,” Masud said.

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund has earmarked over $378,310,111 to the state in broadband funding, which ranked 24th in the country for the most funding.

In terms of funding per resident, Illinois received nearly $29.85 per resident and $262.13 per rural resident.

The states with the least funding were all east coast states (Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York) while the states with the most funding (West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Montana and Wyoming states affected by mountains with little or no broadband access.