Frequently Asked Questions

What is broadband?

In short, broadband is quality Internet service and often interchangeable with wifi. Broadband commonly refers to high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than the traditional dial-up access. The Internet represents a fundamental shift in how urban, suburban and rural communities digitally connect with one another, gather information and conduct their day-to-day lives.
Broadband includes several high-speed transmission technologies such as: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Cable Modem. The definition of broadband has changed and will change again in the future. However, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the current definition of broadband internet is a minimum of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. Broadband provides high speed internet access via multiple types of technologies including fiber optics, wireless, cable, DSL and satellite.

How has the disparity in broadband impacted disenfranchised communities?

For some demographic groups, access to the Internet is ubiquitous. However, there is still a persistent high-speed broadband adoption gap within BIPOC (black, indigenuous, people of color), older adults and low-income communities. According to Pew Research, a growing share of Americans now use smartphones as their primary means of online access at home. Today, roughly one-in-five American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service. The broadband gap in disenfranchised communities continues to loom which has downstream impacts on economic development, health and security.

What is the goal of the South Shore Connects Broadband Initiative?

Having access to broadband is not only essential for health, safety and the economy, but it’s also become a utility during the pandemic. The goals of this initiative are to:

  • Develop a strategic plan which identifies the South Shore community needs relative to Broadband Internet - Access, Adoption and Use
  • Create an action plan for short and long-term broadband service improvements:
    • Collaborate with current providers to deliver the speeds/advertised and paid for by our residents/businesses. Explore usage of others fiber/high-speed internet for South Shore residents.
  • Play an integral role in shifting the paradigm by building thought leaders in our community who recognize the importance of broadband internet access, adoption and use.
  • Partner with Benton Institute and other philanthropic organizations to identify opportunities for South Shore to improve internet accessibility, affordability and use.

What are the benefits of having high-speed broadband in homes?

Closing the broadband gap ensures the following emerging use cases:

  • Working from home
  • Employment hiring
  • Digital health resources and Telemedicine
  • Online Learning

What is the cohort grant TheNNA received from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Office of Broadband?

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Office of Broadband named The Network Neighborhood Alliance (TheNNA) as one of 12 recipients of the first Illinois Connected Community cohort grant that includes four school districts, two community-based organizations, two local governments, two county-level organizations, and two economic development groups.
The Illinois Connected Communities is a partnership among the Illinois Office of Broadband, the Evanston-based Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, and local philanthropy. The program addresses the needs/challenges of broadband access, adoption and use in South Shore, designed to engage the first-year cohort of communities through best practice curriculum and expert consultation. What’s more, the program was created to assist some of the most underserved areas of the state with building broadband capacity, according to Gov. Pritzker’s Office.

What role will The Neighborhood Network Alliance (TheNNA) play in improving broadband service in the South Shore community?

While we're at the beginning stages of the planning process, our overarching aim and long-term strategy is to achieve scaled broadband service in South Shore by better understanding the digital inequities and removing barriers in accessing equitable broadband service. To compete in the 21st-century digital economy, an individual, family, or business must have reliable, robust broadband access just like our homes in America have electricity. We believe the development of broadband skills have been delayed and hampered because of the lack of reliable broadband service. Having robust broadband that is deployed strategically, will maximize our community’s economic development goals, attract future industry, enhance our education and youth organizations, and promote jobs in a broadband-driven industry.

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