SPRINGFIELD — Investments in broadband technology created more than 13,000 jobs in Illinois in 2010 and 2011, according to a study funded by AT&T.

The study also reported that in 2012, Illinois had almost 20,000 jobs related to mobile applications.

The study was released Thursday by a new coalition of 12 Illinois groups representing business and job creation proponents, taxpayer advocates and communications companies.

The new coalition — the Illinois Partnership for the New Economy & Jobs — formed to urge Illinois to modernize its telecommunications law.

“Illinois’ law mandates investment in the 100-year-old technology of wired telephones to your home,” said coalition chair David Vite, who is also president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. “Those dollars would be better used for private investment in broadband networks that are currently creating new jobs.”

In the study, two economists looked at publicly announced investments made in 2010 and 2011 by wireless and wireline broadband services. They estimated $2.2 billion was invested in 2010 and 2011. From this, they projected that broadband investment in Illinois had created more than 13,000 jobs.

Vite said the coalition has begun working on its proposal for a modernized telecommunications law although specifics were not yet available.

He said the coalition is not asking the state to fund broadband development. Instead, it wants the state to “just get out of the way” and allow all available private investment dollars to be used “to expand broadband, both wired and wireless,” by eliminating the requirement that investment be made in outdated copper-wire voice-only technology “that really doesn’t serve the consumers and businesses of Illinois.”

Others speaking at the new coalition’s Statehouse news conference included the presidents of the Illinois Business Roundtable, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, and AT&T Illinois.

Paul LaSchiazza, president of AT&T Illinois, said his company in 2009 to 2011 invested nearly $3.5 billion in Illinois alone on its wired and wireless broadband network.

Vite and LaSchiazza outlined the diverse Illinois industries now beginning to rely on broadband, including agriculture. LaSchiazza said some farmers have been able to use broadband to access commodity markets, fine-tune fertilizer applications and check on livestock.


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