Can someone in the Chicago area please serve this guy? If you get him a wireless connection please let me know and I will have a press release prepared and sent out.
Thanks,
Scriv

PS. If you are in Illinois and have not done so yet, please join the [EMAIL PROTECTED] email list server for Illinois specific information. http://lists.wispa.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/illinois


-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        Illinois' broadband gap squeezes small business from Crain's
Date:   Mon, 17 Apr 2006 10:18:16 -0500
From:   [EMAIL PROTECTED]



From Crain’s
Illinois' broadband gap squeezes small business
By Julie Johnsson
April 16, 2006
Even the cheapest DSL service is out of Steve Zaransky's reach.

The line providing high-speed Internet access from AT&T Inc. stops 600 yards short of his company, Airways Digital Media. Comcast Corp. doesn't serve his neighborhood, an industrial corridor on the city's Far Northwest Side. Broadband remains elusive for some Chicagoans living or working in industrial areas — as Mr. Zaransky learned when he moved his three-employee Web development firm from the West Loop last summer. "I just assumed that anywhere in the city, you'd be able to get broadband," he says.

That's not the case. Illinois ranks 21st nationally for broadband lines per capita, trailing California, Massachusetts and even sparsely populated Nevada and Alaska. In a world of instant information, that's a serious disadvantage for small business owners like Mr. Zaransky, who can't afford the T-1 lines larger companies use to tap into the Internet.

"It creates a struggle to do business here, rather than making it simple. It doesn't bode well for economic development," says Janita Tucker, executive director of the Peterson Pulaski Business and Industrial Council, which represents 22 businesses employing about 2,000 people in the industrial corridor including Mr. Zaransky's business. Most of them don't have access to digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable modem service, she says.

That's ironic in a city that boasts one of the richest fiber networks in the country. Illinois had 1.85 million high-speed Internet lines as of June 30, the fifth-highest total of any state, according to new Federal Communications Commission data. Much of that broadband is clustered in downtown Chicago, a major Internet hub.

However, gaps in the network are a problem elsewhere, leaving Illinois with one broadband connection for every 6.70 residents, according to an analysis by Crain's that compared the FCC tally of broadband lines to population figures from the 2000 U.S. Census. The District of Columbia and Connecticut, with the best coverage nationally, have broadband connections for every 4.52 and 4.97 residents, respectively.

"We do have large areas of the city and many suburban areas that don't have basic broadband availability," says Scott Goldstein, vice-president for policy and planning at the Metropolitan Planning Council. "All sectors of the economy are going high-tech, not just large companies. That's where Chicago needs to compete."

The problem is a hangover from the 1990s, when Chicago's dominant phone and cable companies were slow to upgrade networks that were later acquired by AT&T (formerly known as SBC Communications Inc.) and Comcast.

NO RESIDENCES, NO COVERAGE

Philadelphia cable giant Comcast has made cable modem available to about 99% of homes in its Northern Illinois service area, but it doesn't provide service to office parks and industrial areas where there are no residences, a spokeswoman says. DSL service, provided by phone companies, reached only 77% of Illinois phone customers as of June 30, 2005, according to federal data.

In Florida, the state with the widest DSL availability, some 85% of customers could hook into the service as of mid-2005. New York's DSL network reached 81% of the state.

An AT&T spokesman says 80% of its Illinois customers had access to DSL by the end of 2005. He can't say when the company's DSL coverage will approach 100%. "Our goal is to get to these areas as soon as we can, and we're working at it." He says the network will reach Mr. Zaransky's neighborhood this year.

Texas-based AT&T also plans to begin wiring area homes for fiber-optic lines capable of providing television programming and ultra-fast Internet service later this year.

State and city of Chicago officials acknowledge broadband coverage is a problem, but they have been slow to find solutions. The Illinois Broadband Task Force, established by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is drawing up plans to study service gaps and create an entity to provide broadband in underserved areas.



Chicago, meanwhile, is proceeding with plans to establish citywide Wi-Fi service. Requests for proposals for the project will be issued later this spring, with the first service deployment beginning in 2007, says Hardik Bhatt, the city's chief information officer. "It should cover the industrial zones or disadvantaged neighborhoods that are not fully connected by existing providers."

T-1 SPLIT 12 WAYS

That's little comfort to residents and business owners who need such connections immediately. For now, Mr. Zaransky must share a T-1 line with 12 other tenants of his building at 4055 W. Peterson Ave. The line provides access at speeds barely faster than dial-up. He sends large files from his home in suburban Forest Park, where he has full broadband access. "It's a productivity cost," he says. "It takes a lot of time. I have to take them home, unload them from home."

For Dwight Curtis, the lack of DSL or cable modem service means not having any backup during the not-infrequent outages that plague the two T-1 lines serving his 100,000-square-foot distribution center on the Northwest Side.

"If that last-mile connection is down, we're out of business," says Mr. Curtis, president of Chicago-based American Labelmark Co.

Carolyn Brown Hodge
Director of Rural Affairs
Office of Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn
414 Stratton Building
Springfield, Illinois 62706
(217) 557-9469
FAX (217) 782-9879


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