Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Tuesday's ceremony was the kickoff to the construction phase of a huge, multi-agency, multimillion-dollar project to deliver that broadband access to 2,500 homes and businesses and 137 community buildings. The agencies, the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the University of Illinois, were notified 18 months ago that they were to be the recipients of a $22.5 million federal stimulus grant to build the Internet infrastructure. That was paired with a $3 million grant from the state of Illinois and hundreds of thousands dollars more from the local agencies. After spending the intervening months planning the network, officials gathered in Douglass Park on Tuesday with shovels and hard hats in hand. Construction crews will be burying 278 miles' worth of fiber throughout Champaign-Urbana during the next months, and organizers hope to be delivering Internet and cable service to eligible businesses and homes within the next year.The goal is ultimately to connect everyone -- residents and businesses -- with the best network possible, allowing independent ISPs to offer services. However, this approach is somewhat new, with a lot of diverse stakeholders trying to work together so it will undoubtedly be a project to watch and learn from. Follow the project and learn more about it on their site.