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Jacksonville, Ill., Begins Aggressive Broadband Buildout

Workers have started the process of building out the $2.5 million project that officials hope will make high-speed Internet available to every home and business in the city by the end of next year.

by David C.L. Bauer, Jacksonville Journal-Courier / September 17, 2020
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(TNS) — Those mounds of dirt dotting neighborhoods across Jacksonville are signs a project to establish a citywide fiber optic network is progressing quickly.

Peoria-based i3 Broadband began literally laying the groundwork for the project about Labor Day, creating the tunnels that will house the fiber optic cables.

It’s the start of a $2.5 million plan that will make high-speed Internet available to every home and business in Jacksonville by the end of 2021.

Fiber optic cable can send data about 10 times faster than existing copper-based connections like DSL and cable. It is also considered more reliable and its speeds more consistent than cable Internet.

The downside is that installing a fiber optic network is a pretty major undertaking. As a result, just about 32% of Internet users nationwide have such connections and they are mostly in larger cities, according to Broadband Now magazine.

Chicago, for example, has availability for about 21% of its Internet users to have a fiber optic connection.

The project will put Jacksonville among a fairly select group of smaller cities with complete fiber optic service available.

“By expanding our network throughout Jacksonville, we’re continuing to execute our long-term vision of growing our footprint and growing our relationships with each community we serve,” said Dan Kennedy, president of i3 Broadband. “We’re looking forward to providing services that vastly surpass existing providers and enable the city to be among national broadband leaders with a community-wide fiber-optic broadband deployment.”

Mayor Andy Ezard has been pushing the project for several years as a way for the community to be prepared for an Internet-heavy high-tech future.

“With a growing number of residents working and schooling from home, it became apparent that making affordable, high-capacity broadband available to all our citizens was of paramount importance, now and into the future,” he said. “The addition of reliable fiber optic technology throughout the whole community brings digital equity to all our residents.”

©2020 the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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