Clark keys on improving internet access

For Chronicle Media

Jennifer Clark, chair of the Lake County Board’s Special Advisory Committee, spoke about the county’s efforts to address digital equity during the 2024 Broadband Communities Summit. (Photo courtesy of Lake County)

Serving as one of numerous panelists from across the United States, Jennifer Clark, chair of the Lake County Board’s Special Advisory Committee, spoke about the county’s efforts to address digital equity during the 2024 Broadband Communities Summit, held May 6-8 in The Woodlands, Texas.  

The event brought together a wide range of community and industry leaders, property owners and network infrastructure builders to discuss strategies for delivering connectivity to communities across the country. Main themes included Strategy; Technology & Operations; Communities; and Multifamily.   

The Strategy session explored investment, regulatory and policy context for delivering connectivity to U.S. communities. Topics included funding allocation, legal and regulatory challenges, partnership models, investment, and commercial strategy for network developments.  

Technology & Operations covered the latest cutting-edge technologies and innovations that enable property owners, service providers and public officials to improve network development and to offer the best services for residents and end-users. The Communities segment focused on closing the digital divide to ensure that no community is left behind, including master-planned developments, rural towns, tribal nations, communities in large cities and more.  

Lastly, the Multifamily stage explored the technical, operational, legal and commercial challenges for the multifamily sector.  

With Illinois positioned to gain more than $1 billion in federal broadband funding over the next five years, in addition to state investments, community and industry leaders want to ensure that this record investment leads to sustainable economic opportunity for all communities.  

As a panelist, Clark shared the steps Lake County is taking to expand countywide access to reliable, high-speed broadband infrastructure. This includes researching opportunities to remove barriers to affordable internet, as well as expanding digital literacy programs.  

“High-speed internet access is so important for everything from remote work to school to telehealth to keeping in touch with family and friends,” Clark said. “Lake County is committed to investing in broadband infrastructure and digital access programs so all residents are equipped with the resources needed to participate in an increasingly digital society.” 

Lake County stated that it emerged as a leader in addressing digital equity after launching the Lake County Digital Growth Initiative to better understand the current state of high-speed internet service availability and digital equity within the county and to implement solutions. The county reported that more than 3,800 households and businesses in Lake County are in areas with internet service considered to be underserved or unserved, ranking below Federal Communication Commission standards for high-speed internet.  

As part of a countywide initiative, Lake County has launched the Digital Equity Coalition — open to government, private, community and nonprofit organizations. The focus is to connect those interested in improving digital equity in Lake County, and the coalition intends to meet regularly to discuss projects and collaborate with members to implement those plans.  

For more information, including how to participate in the Digital Equity Coalition, visit