When will we get high speed fiber in Champaign?

Posted on 7/17/2016 by Oksana Whitsitt in fiber high speed internet cherry hills

There's been a lot of confusion about iTV-3 and the installation of fiber in Champaign-Urbana, but the bottom line is it just hasn't happened. And it looks like the recommendation to the City Council is for potentially more of the same. Here's a quick history of how we got to this point, and some important actions the City will be taking in the next few weeks.

The original project began in 2009 with a federal grant and the creation of the UC2B Consortium. During that project the original fiber optic system backbone was constructed in C-U and by 2013 there were a bit over 1000 customers connected. In February 2014, the Consortium selected iTV-3 Inc. (the company affiliated with Family Video) to operate and expand the system. The agreement with iTV-3 included a Right of First Refusal where the cities had the right to buy out the network in the event iTV-3 decided to sell their interests.

Fast forward to today, and there are fewer customers being served than when UC2B made the original transfer to iTV-3. The company decided to get out of this market and proposed to sell to a new company named iTV-3 LLC (kind of an unfortunate name for them to pick). iTV-3, LLC is an affiliate of CountryWide Broadband. The City of Champaign has until 8/5/2016 to take action on the proposed sale / transfer to CountryWide or the transfer will take effect. The recommendation to the city council is to reject the transfer and continue discussions with CountryWide regarding commitments. CountryWide would require 45% of a neighborhood to commit to service before beginning build-out, which is slightly better than the 50% commitment required by iTV-3, Inc.

As part of the City Council Study Session, the city attorney provided a very nice write-up summarizing the situation and their recommendation. You can get a copy here.

So, is there progress being made to bring high speed fiber to our homes? You be the judge.

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