UC2B Fiber Optic Network Expansion Opportunity

The Champaign-Urbana community has entered a competition to continue building one of the fastest broadband Internet networks in the country. Anchored by on-going construction of the UC2B network, local leaders are preparing a bid proposal for Champaign-Urbana to be one of six communities nationwide to split $200 million in funding from Gigabit Squared, an economic development firm that specializes in building broadband networks through its collaboration with Gig. U, the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project.

The six communities selected will receive funding to expand broadband connectivity by building out fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) infrastructure. This would give all homes and businesses in Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy the ability to connect to the local ultra-high speed network. In order to increase our chances of being selected as one of the winning communities, we need as many residents and businesses in our community as possible to declare their interest in subscribing to open access broadband service through Gigabit Squared by July 30, 2012. Residents can participate by pledging a minimum of $100 towards the $500 consumer installation fee and committing to a one-year service contract with Gigabit Squared. Businesses are also encouraged to participate by pledging $200 toward the $1,000 commercial installation fee.

“With fiber optic Internet, this community will be at the leading edge of transformations in education, jobs, health care, and the shift to a digital, connected lifestyle. Now is the opportunity for residents and businesses to sign up to make this a reality for themselves and for the whole community,” said Brandon Bowersox-Johnson, Urbana City Councilman.

The infrastructure for ultra-high-speed connectivity has already been laid in 11 census blocks across both cities as part of the UC2B project, an intergovernmental consortium that includes the University of Illinois and the cities of Urbana and Champaign and is dedicated to building and operating an open-access fiber-optic broadband network throughout the area. With 2,500 homes and 200 community organizations connecting to UC2B, not only will it be one of the largest networks of users connected at gigabit speeds in the nation, but it makes Champaign-Urbana one of the most appealing locations for researchers and entrepreneurs to create and test new, next-generation applications.

“Gigabit Squared has opened the door to a great opportunity to build out the UC2B network. There is a lot of demand here for this network, especially as we all have more and more devices that we use in our daily lives like smart phones, tablets, appliances, and so on that connect to the Internet. And it is exciting that Champaign-Urbana will have Internet access to serve everyone in our community,” said Jon Gant, associate professor of library and information science at the University of Illinois and researcher on the UC2B project.

Residents can sign up by visiting www.uc2b.net/expansion or by calling (217) 366-UC2B. Neighborhoods will be connected in order of how many residents have committed to service, but people are able to prioritize their connection by pledging at an expedited commitment level.