News Local/State

High Speed Broadband Service Expanding in C-U

UC2B's Mike Smeltzer speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Urbana to launch ITV-3's high-speed broadband service in Champaign-Urbana.

UC2B's Mike Smeltzer speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Urbana for the launch of ITV-3 broadband service. Others attending include (L-R) Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen, Champaign County EDC Director Craig Rost and Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing. UC2B Board Chair Brandon Bowersox-Johnson stands behind and next to Smeltzer. (Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at a south Urbana home Friday to mark the next leg of high-speed broadband service provided through UC2B in Champaign-Urbana. ITV-3 is wiring up the neighborhood, as it launches service built on the UC2B broadband network established by the cities of Champaign and Urbana, and the University of Illinois.

ITV-3 signed up as a private partner of UC2B last year. It’s now in the process of installing gigabit fiber-to-the-home equipment in Champaign-Urbana, and plans to connect about 350 homes the next few weeks. 

The partnership of UC2B and ITV-3 (a subsidiary of Illinois-based Family Video) marks the first build-out of residential and small business service since UC2B initially signed up neighborhoods identified as underserved by Internet service providers, under terms of a U-S Commerce Department grant.

University of Illinois employee Mike Smeltzer worked on the grant for UC2B. Now retired from the University, Smeltzer attended Friday’s ITV-3 ribbon-cutting in Urbana. He says it’s good for Comcast and AT&T to have some competition.

“They’re not doing it for totally altruistic reasons”, said Smeltzer. “They’re a business.  But they’re a pretty well-grounded business that I think is compatible with what we’d like to see happen in this community.”

ITV-3 already provides high-speed broadband service in some Tazewell County suburbs of Peoria, and is expanding to the city of Peoria itself. In Champaign-Urbana, the company ultimately plans to serve 45,000 homes and businesses.

Comcast, the largest Internet provider in Champaign-Urbana, recently announced it would offer its high-speed Gigabit Pro service in Champaign-Urbana, and also expand its Internet hotspots in the Champaign Campustown area. A company spokesperson told the News-Gazette that the expansion had nothing to do with competition from ITV-3 or other services.