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Eliminating the Digital Divide


In 2016, the City of Springfield installed Downtown Wi-Fi as the first step in providing internet access to assist individuals through wayfinding along with tourism and business attraction. The City has its own fiber it supplies to various businesses, including the Medical District, through our own utility, City Water, Light & Power (CWLP). In 2019, the City completed two Broadband feasibility studies focusing on Tech Hub opportunities and residential equity as a way of leveraging CWLP’s fiber.

The 2020 pandemic created a pause in the City’s Broadband effort but brought to the forefront the magnitude of the digital divide - the racial and economic disparities; that a cell phone does not make someone connected; affordability and accessibility issues; importance - but lack of - fiber throughout the City; and economic and educational equity through the lens of Broadband.

The City’s efforts resumed in the summer of 2021 with a communitywide survey that was conducted by the University of Illinois Springfield. A special focus was made on gathering responses from 62702 and 62703. Then in 2022, the City of Springfield created a cohort of staff and community members who took part in the State of Illinois’ Accelerate Broadband 14-week program to help create the City’s implementation strategy. The Springfield Cohort also interviewed various Broadband providers to understand their perspective and approach to community Broadband. The cohort also developed the City’s Vision and the plan and approach was presented to the City Council in August of 2022.

The City Council has budgeted $3 million in the fiscal year that is from March 1, 2023 – February 28, 2024 to begin bringing Broadband to our under-served areas.

 City's Broadband Online Dashboard

In 2022, the City of Springfield created an online dashboard to show which areas of Springfield lacked Broadband connection. The following is a list of Census Tracts that have the greatest needs and the area of focus for Broadband installation.

  1. Census Tract 16
  2. Census Tract 24
  3. Census Tract 26
  4. Census Tract 9
  5. Census Tract 1

Above Census Tracts encompass parts of current Wards 3, 2, 6, 5, 4, 9

Census Tract 14 excluded. This encompasses most of the downtown area, which would be a focus for business broadband expansion.

 View the Dashboard  
** Please use the arrows/tabs at the bottom of the dashboard to view different subsets of information including “No Internet Access”; “Without Broadband”; “No Computer Hardware”; “No Cellular Data Plan”; and areas of the city with the “Best Performers”. Top navigation provides additional sources of data as it relates to City of Springfield Broadband needs.

 City Research & Studies

Springfield Feasibility Study - November, 2019  View Document
Springfield CORE Hub Study - November, 2019  View Document
Findings: Citywide Broadband Resident Survey, August 2021  View Document
City Council Presentation - August, 2022  View Document

 Definition of Internet Access

The United States Code (USC) from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that the term “Internet Access Services” means the provision of a computer and communications services through which a customer using a computer and a modem or other communications device may obtain access to the Internet, but does not include telecommunications services provided by a common carrier.

Simplified Definition: Accessing information and services online, but not through a mobile device. Also referred to as Broadband.

 City of Springfield’s Broadband Vision

By 2024, all residents, anchor institutions, and business locations in Springfield, Illinois will have access to a minimum of one – affordable, equitable - broadband network that is capable of providing benefits of current and future economic, social, civic, educational, health, and entertainment applications for households and businesses in our city.

By 2025, all Springfield residents will have access to affordable computing devices for their homes and businesses along with free resources including technical assistance and digital education courses to help all residents advance personally and professionally.

Through these initiatives, 100% of City of Springfield residents will have access to broadband, personal devices, and digital education by 2026.

 What we have learned

  • Affordability vs. Accessibility = accessibility is more readily available, but it’s the affordability and access to devices that are obstacles.
  • It’s not simply about connecting homes to the Internet. Planning will also involve digital literacy and connecting homes with devices.
  • Workforce development is another component to Broadband planning.
  • Our City may need more than one solution.
  • The Internet is not a luxury. It is a necessity.

 Urgent Need

The health pandemic of 2020 brought to the forefront the magnitude of the digital divide.

  • The racial and economic disparities.
  • A cell phone does NOT make someone connected.
  • Affordability and accessibility issues.
  • Importance - but lack of - fiber throughout the City.
  • Economic and educational equity through the lens of Broadband.


This effort will go beyond providing Broadband Access. In order to be successful, the work must also include:

  • Digital Literacy
  • Device Acquisition
  • Workforce Development
  • Volunteer and Community Partnerships
  • Public-Private Partnerships

 Next Steps

City of Springfield will issue an RFP by June, 2023 to be awarded late September, 2023 for Broadband installation.

 Springfield Broadband Access

 Springfield Broadband Cohort

Tom Chi

Smart Cities Project Manager

City of Springfield

Julia Frevert

Communications Director

City of Springfield

Donna Davlantis

Grants Coordinator

City of Springfield

Dr. Stacy Grundy

former Director of Community Engagement

SIU System

Shelly Heideman

Executive Director

Faith Coalition for the Common Good

Marcus Johnson

President & CEO

Springfield Urban League

Kathi Lee

former Principal

Lawrence Education Center

Mike Murphy

President & CEO

Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

Alderman Roy Williams

Ward 3 Alderman

City of Springfield