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Jacksonville, Ill., Considers Fiber-Optic Network Buildout

Jacksonville, Illinois city leaders are looking to establish a citywide fiber-optic network to expand Internet access.

by Marco Cartolano, Jacksonville Journal-Courier / July 14, 2020
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(TNS) — Jacksonville city leaders could take the next step tonight toward establishing a citywide fiber-optic network.

Aldermen will be asked to approve a resolution that would waive advertising for bids and accept a memorandum of understanding from Springfield-based service provider i3 Broadband for a plan to provide fiber-optic cables for the city’s broadband initiative.

The council’s Special Studies Committee has been looking into a plan for months. The committee said small businesses in particular have issues with service reliability and many residents would like better connections for activities such as phone conferencing and gaming.

It would mean an initial investment by the city of about $2.5 million. Provider i3 Broadband has proposed providing high-speed Internet connections to every residence and business in Jacksonville. Mayor Andy Ezard said the committee recommended the plan.

Committee Chairman Steve Warmowski said the project could start this year and be finished by the end of 2021.

“The most important thing about this project is that [it] would provide Internet for every single household in the city,” Warmowski has said. “It would be fast enough Internet to encourage economic development.”

Many communities have pointed to having a robust Internet backbone as the key to attracting future development, especially tech companies.

Representatives from groups that help municipalities get access to high-speed Internet advised the committee that a fiber-optic network would provide reliability, functionality and speed. They also advised that a fiber-optic network would be more able to stay current with other changes in technology than other Internet service options.

Other communities might have the opportunity to tap into the network, which could reduce the amount the city needs to pay. If the council agrees on the deal, video gaming receipts and revenue from a cannabis tax have been discussed as sources of funding.

The City Council meeting will begin after a 5:30 p.m. workshop, but start no later than 7 p.m. today, in the Municipal Building at 200 W. Douglas Ave.

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

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