MONTICELLO — Fiber-optic installation is nearly complete and may be in use for local governmental entities by the beginning of the year.
"There are a couple of spots they still need to finish, but I still feel comfortable with a Jan. 1 date to be functional," said Randy Keith, the Piatt County Board member who is heading up the local fiber-optic committee that also includes representatives from local schools, the city and the Allerton Public Library District.
The four governmental entities are splitting the estimated $160,000 cost to install the high-speed data wire throughout Monticello, which will give them access to Internet speeds hundreds of times faster than what is available now.
Next on the list is to "blow" the razor-thin wire into the pipe that has been buried throughout town. The intergovernmental committee would also like to find a company to manage the local system. That deal may include trading some fiber-optic lines in exchange for taking care of and repairing the local network.
Keith said they also need to purchase high-speed Internet access, with one possibility being the Illinois Century Network. The state has installed about 1,000 miles of fiber along interstates in Illinois, including a swath that runs by Monticello.
Hopes are that the project will put the city on the technological cutting edge. For the school system, it will speed up a district goal to allow every student in the district to be on a computer or handheld device at the same time.