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Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband

Cost

Initial:
31 Million USD

Project Status

Operational since 2014

At a Glance

Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) is a not-for-profit (NFP) corporation in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. UC2B is both an internet service provider (ISP) and a fiber-optic broadband network. UC2B NFP was formed to operate the network and the ISP that comprise UC2B. The NFP oversees the operation of the network, the customer service associated with the ISP, and the daily business of both. UC2B was founded when University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and local matching funds from several partners. To utilize the grants and local match funds, the University joined with the cities of Champaign and Urbana to form a Consortium to oversee the construction of a fiber-optic network. The network consists of fiber optic infrastructure that is the fastest, most state-of-the art-fiber-optic network communication technology on the planet. Under the terms of the grant, they began our fiber to the premise (FTTP) connections in neighborhoods where broadband adoption was historically at 40% or less as determined by the 2000 census. While many of these census block neighborhoods coincide with low-income areas, this was not a basis for providing these connections. Construction and installation at no charge to the customer in those neighborhoods and to Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) – defined as any institution that could potentially serve a vulnerable population. Despite the initial construction and installation being performed at no charge to the customer, all customers must pay a monthly service charge for their UC2B connection. This monthly fee is a discounted rate for the customers who signed up during the initial grant period – as low as $19.99/month for many customers. UC2B is governed by a board of directors consisting of nine members. The Chancellor of the University of Illinois, the city manager at the city of Champaign, and the mayor of the city of Urbana each appoint three voting board members. More than 1,000 residences, 250 Anchor Institutions and 75 businesses were connected to UC2B fiber through our state and federal grants and with local funds. Now that the grant period has ended, UC2B has formed a partnership with iTV-3, an experienced Illinois company to expand fiber to more areas of the community and operate the system. The agreement includes stipulations on iTV-3 to ensure service continuity, expand fiber access, build gigabit fiber optic internet capacity, offer wholesale access on the network to competing companies if complete connectivity isn't achieved in 5 years, and contribute to UC2B’s Community Benefit Fund.

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