Broadband Internet is key to the future

By The Editorial Board

When you think of school pride, the first things that come to mind are probably athletics and exceptional academic programs, not Internet access.

But NIU can count that now, with word that the university received a $68.5 million grant for broadband network development-the largest grant in the university’s history.

It’s hard to believe how much society has come to revolve around and rely on the Internet in the last two decades. Even more amazing is how relevant it has become just in our lifetime. We think that some of our fellow students and faculty have come to view high-speed Internet access not just as another luxury of living in a first-world Western country, but as a birthright.

And as our technological prowess enables us to reach higher speeds of connectivity, we’ll be looking to institutions like NIU to help lead the way. Here at NIU, we do have relatively fast Internet. But not every school, hospital, and library has it. This grant will allow NIU to provide this same advantage to other public institutions, along with private businesses as well.

As Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) was quoted in the press release, “With this funding, NIU will be able to bring broadband service to underserved areas, creating hundreds of jobs and spurring economic development in our area… While the short‑term impact will be significant, there is no doubt that this will generate enormous benefits for our region in the long‑term. Throughout the country, high-quality broadband infrastructure has been the catalyst for industrial growth.”

NIU has five individuals to thank for their efforts on getting this grant. If you happen to see or work with John Lewis, Herb Kuryliw, Lisa Kay Bergeron, Roger Swenson and/or Michael Spires, tell them thank you.

It may not be the most “visible” of the grants, but its importance to the society at large cannot be understated.

The Internet is, without a doubt, the way of the future. It’s good to see NIU is taking part in it.