Illinois has upgraded its telecom network to provide faster service to 8,000 schools, universities and libraries around the state, AP reports.
Officials at the Illinois Century Network, originally launched to serve schools but now serving local governments, hospitals and other agencies, recently installed new equipment for faster service. The network was transferred from a private operator to state operation last year, a move that saved $7 million.
The move also will trim user costs by more than half in some cases, putting prices within reach of more schools, libraries and other agencies, said Lori Sorenson, who is chief operating officer at the bureau of communication and computing services for the state Department of Central Management Services.
About 80 percent of Illinois schools are plugged into the network, offering programs that include video classes that let students earn college credit via the Internet, Sorenson said. Libraries also use the network to share resources, while video conferences give rural hospitals instant access to medical experts for burn victims and other emergencies.
The network is the largest publicly run data network in the country.