Residents of Jacksonville, Illinois are demanding improved Internet connection in their homes. A committee meeting discussed the options for fiber-optics and expressed support for the city getting high-speed Internet.
(TNS) — Jacksonville officials see the future as being online, and have started asking people how best to build for the future of high-speed Internet in the city.
Alderman Brandon Adams said during a committee meeting Tuesday that some businesses especially have expressed having issues with unreliable service and some have had to install secondary Internet services to ensure quality.
With more home devices relying on Wi-Fi connections, residents have told Adams they would like better residential service for activities such as phone conferences or gaming.
To illustrate his point, Adams told the story about Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s staff trying to connect during a meeting at Jacksonville Public Library.
“Fifteen minutes after (Duckworth’s staff) got there, they still couldn’t get hooked up to the Wi-Fi,” Adams said. “When I’m asking for a fiber grant, they knew exactly what I was talking about.”
While high-speed Internet is available through different providers in the city, the cutting edge is fiber optic connections. None of the Internet service providers in the area are planning on installing a fiber optic network for residential use.
The benefit for such a connection is in reliability, functionality and speed. It also comes at a cost, especially to establish the needed framework.
Cat Blake, senior program manager for Next Century Cities — a group that works with municipalities on getting access to high-speed Internet — said a fiber optic network is important for Jacksonville’s future.
“Fiber is the closest thing that we have right now to a future-proof technology,” she said.
The most expensive part of establishing a fiber-optic network is the construction, Blake said, noting that buying the fiber itself would not be as expensive.
Blake offered four common connectivity models:
• A full municipal network — Blake used Chattanooga, Tennessee, as an example. The municipality both owns the network and runs it. Highland, in Madison County, whose broadband director gave a presentation to the council, also uses this model. Such networks often are built by cities with existing municipal electrical facilities, which make the process easier, Blake said.
• An open-access model. Ammon, Idaho, uses this model, under which the city would build and own the fiber infrastructure but lease access to many private providers.
• A public-private partnership. Centennial, Colorado, and Westminster, Maryland, use this model, under which the city owns the network and leases it to one provider to run.
• A conduit network. Lincoln, Nebraska uses this model. A conduit system of empty tubes is built and the space inside is leased to providers, who draw their own fiber infrastructure through the conduit system.
Those who attended the meeting expressed support for Jacksonville getting high-speed Internet.
“Jacksonville’s future would be greatly impacted positively by having broadband,” said Elizabeth Tobin of Jacksonville, noting that Internet access is key to many businesses. “I don’t think we’re going to go back to the day when there were a lot of factories in Jacksonville.”
©2020 the Jacksonville Journal-Courier (Jacksonville, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.