Big Broadband prices to be presented to council

Big Broadband prices to be presented to council

Here's a little more detail on the prices of Big Broadband that I wrote about in today's story about this week's city council meeting.

Mike Smeltzer, director of networking for CITES at the UI, said the rates reflect what Big Broadband needs to collect in revenue to be sustainable. The prices were based on a projected 54 percent subscription rate — some involved with Big Broadband have wondered whether that projection is too optimistic.

Smeltzer said the rates may be a bit "aggressive," but stood by the below chart as appropriate pricing. We'll see if that concern gets any attention at the city council meeting on Tuesday.

The cities of Urbana and Champaign and the UI are proposing to offer 10 different speeds at 10 different prices. I had to ask Fred Halenar, Champaign's information technologies director, for an explanation: The first number represents speed to access the Internet, and the second is how fast you can access the local network (take the first speed listed on the chart — you can browse the Internet at five megabits per second and the local Big Broadband network at 100 Mbps).

Smeltzer said the bandwidth for the $85.99-per-month plan is ridiculously wide. Hypothetically, you could be watching 10 high-definition channels on 10 different TVs simultaneously and still have enough bandwidth to browse the Internet. You could do one TV and Internet on the $19.99 monthly plan.

I pulled this table from the report the Champaign City Council will discuss on Tuesday:

Speed (Mbps)

Price per month





















For comparison, the next table shows a few of Comcast's prices in downtown Champaign. These are the long-term prices, not the initial promotional prices. And I took the cheapest packages Comcast offers for each speed. Those packages also include some features (e-mail accounts, 3G or 4G coverage, among others) that Big Broadband would not offer.

Comcast's download speeds in this table can be compared with the numbers on the left side of the slashes in the above table:

Download speeds (Mbps)

Price per month











Upload speeds with Comcast are also considerably slower than the download speeds. With Big Broadband, upload and download speeds are the same.

The construction could begin in 2011, and will at first be only available to the 11 "underserved" census blocks — areas where more than 60 percent of residents do not have Internet access — and community buildings. That's 4,650 homes and 137 community spaces.

Questions or comments? Please feel encouraged to post them below, e-mail me or send me a message on Twitter.

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Meg Dickinson wrote on August 09, 2010 at 12:08 pm
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"At first (it will) be only available to the 11 'underserved' census blocks — areas where more than 60 percent of residents do not have Internet access — and community buildings."

Will it eventually be offered outside underserved areas? If so, how long will that take?

Patrick Wade wrote on August 09, 2010 at 1:08 pm
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According to an e-mail from Halenar, "The network being built with project funds would have the ability to be expanded to the entire community in the future (perhaps maybe even beyond). However, there has been no formal decision to do that currently and the focus for the next couple years will be to complete the project as it was defined and approved for funding. The project must be completed by January 31, 2013, and will require intense efforts to meet the federal deadline. Sometime between now and February 1, 2013, there may be plans requiring council and UC2B to make decisions to determine the eventual future fate of the network."