Governor Rauner signs bill to expand seniors’ access to high-speed internet

Broadband Advisory Council formed to ensure access for health, work, and convenience reasons

information provided by the Office of the Governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (August 14, 2018) — Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill today to increase Illinois seniors’ access to high-speed internet.

House Bill 5752 creates the Broadband Advisory Council to explore ways to expand broadband access, often called high-speed internet, throughout the state, including in unserved and underserved areas.

“Bringing broadband to every corner of illinois is one way to ensure our older residents can live independently in their own homes instead of more costly institutions,” said Ryan Gruenenfelder, director of Advocacy & Outreach at AARP Illinois.

“Bringing broadband to every corner of illinois is one way to ensure our older residents can live independently in their own homes instead of more costly institutions,” said Ryan Gruenenfelder, director of Advocacy & Outreach at AARP Illinois. (Photo provided)

“This is the continuation of our initiative to ensure our senior citizens have better access to affordable high-speed internet so they may benefit from the resources and support online platforms offer,” Rauner said.

The bill, initiated by AARP, provides specifics on the council’s membership, powers, and duties. The council will be administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Just under 4-in-10 people aged 65 and older have high-speed internet access in their homes, compared to 77 percent of the 30- to 49-year-old demographic, according to AARP Illinois’ most recent data.

Many seniors need broadband access to benefit from web-based technologies that support aging in place, such as telehealth and “smart home” systems. Other uses include self-management of chronic diseases that can help prevent or postpone functional decline, such as home-based smart medical services.

Additionally, the ability to work part-time from home online could be particularly valuable to older adults facing growing demands to manage complex health, retirement, and care arrangements.

The bill was supported by AARP of Illinois, AT&T, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Municipal League, Illinois Telecommunications Association, IDOA, and DCEO.

 

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