I3 Broadband aiming to connect 10,000 homes to fiber network in 2018

I3 Broadband aiming to connect 10,000 homes to fiber network in 2018

CHAMPAIGN — I3 Broadband, which acquired the fiber-optic network in Champaign-Urbana last year, said it expanded to 2,750 new homes in the last 12 months, and its goal for 2018 is to connect more than 10,000 homes.

"We definitely know there is a need in the Champaign-Urbana area for a really great fiber connection," said Chelsea Peck, i3's marketing and PR manager.

About a year ago, the company added a way for potential customers to register their interest in having the network expanded to their neighborhood without providing any credit-card or bank-account information. Potential customers can go to i3broadband.com, enter their address, choose the services they would like, then have the company mail a letter to the address where they want service that they can sign and return to be verified.

Peck said this option hasn't been used too much yet, but "it's important for us to offer it for the minority that worry about protecting their information."

I3 has partitioned C-U into neighborhoods and expands its network to each one based on a variety of factors, such as whether it is adjacent to one that already has access and if 30 to 45 percent of households in one register their interest.

Right now, i3 is in about 24 neighborhoods, including many in northern Champaign and Urbana, and just east of the University of Illinois campus. It has plans to expand to nine more. The full map can be seen at i3broadband.com/map_champaign-urbana.

Last year, i3, which offers high-speed internet, television and phone service, bought iTV-3, the previous operator of the network, pledging to invest millions of dollars and add at least 2,500 homes a year.

"We're gradually moving toward (that goal), so that eventually over a five- to six-year period, we will have built past almost every location in the cities of Champaign and Urbana," said Mike Whitaker, i3's vice president of sales and business development.

The UC2B network started in 2010 as an intergovernmental partnership including the University of Illinois and the cities of Champaign and Urbana. It was initially funded by a federal grant with state and local matching funds.

It has been taking requests from potential customers since 2012.

Sections (3):News, Local, Business