With an average download speed of 6.4 mbps, the state was ranked 13th in 2009, a fall of two places on the previous year despite a speed increase from 5.2 mbps. An internet service was available to 63% of households in 2007, just over 50% having a broadband service from their ISP.
High speed broadband internet services are commonly available, especially in the larger areas of population, with many internet providers offering a DSL or fiber optic cable service. However, many of the more rural areas have no reported access to broadband. Surprisingly, some areas of Chicago are still without broadband in 2009, despite the city having one of the richest fiber networks in the country.
Steps are being taken to improve the situation, with the 2009 "Illinois Jobs Now!" public works program ensuring fiber optic network conduit is installed whenever a trench is opened alongside a state owned infrastructure. $50 million was also made available for grants and loans to fund broadband deployment.
The state's Broadband Deployment Council, set up in 2007, aims to coordinate efforts to improve broadband availability. As at December 2009, the state has applied for $104 million of federal stimulus grant to fund the building of its own statewide fiber network. This has led to protests from AT&T and Comcast, who are anxious not to lose business, with each internet provider arguing that their areas are already well served.
Rural areas do have continuing problems but, in some areas, electric cooperatives are offering wireless internet access as the best option. This requires direct line of sight, so wifi may not be available in valleys or wooded areas.
With a mainly continental climate, Illinois generally has hot summers and cold winters. It averages 51 thunderstorm days a year and 35 tornadoes. Illinois is usually the leading state for the production of soybeans and is second for corn. The state's economy has become increasingly dependent on services, including financial trading and higher education, but chemical, food and machinery manufacturing also feature highly.
The state capital is Springfield but by far the biggest city is Chicago, with around two thirds of the state's population being within the immediate area. The Port of Chicago connects the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River via the Illinois River. Aurora, Rockford and Joliet are the next largest cities.
You can check for providers using our search function: Chicago Internet Service Providers
Cities in Illinois likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville, Springfield, Peoria and Elgin. Locations in IL with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.