Update on Nonprofit Status, Expansion, and the Future of UC2B

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UC2B has undergone a few structural changes recently, and has received some attention in the news as a result. We want to address questions and concerns that customers and the community in general might have, and to clear up possible misconceptions. We apologize for not communicating more readily before now. We hope that this will help shed some light on where we are in the life cycle of UC2B, what our plans are going forward, and how those plans might affect you as a customer, and as a member of this community.

First of all, UC2B was not sold. To date, UC2B has been what is called an Intergovernmental Consortium between the cities of Champaign and Urbana, and the University of Illinois. The rules that govern that Consortium are called an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). This is a legal document that was drafted by attorneys of the three entities to outline details like which entity would manage construction contracts. The original IGA under which the consortium had been governed expired on June 30, 2013. Because UC2B has grown and changed since the original IGA was drafted, the IGA had to be amended to better reflect where we are now.  This document needed also to be amended to prepare us for the future of UC2B. Included in the amendments to the IGA was a proposed set of new organizational bylaws for the not-for-profit entity that UC2B will become.

UC2B will become a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. On Tuesday, July 30, 2013, the Urbana City Council met with the Champaign City Council for a joint study session to discuss the formation of a nonprofit entity. On Monday, August 5, 2013, the Urbana City Council approved Ordinance 2013-08-065, “An Ordinance Approving, Authorizing Entering Into and Executing a Second Amended and Restated Intergovernmental Agreement Providing for the Creation of the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband Consortium”. During their meeting, some members of the Urbana City Council raised questions about details of the document, which would be voted on by the Champaign City Council the following night. Ultimately, a compromise was reached by the legal departments for both Cities and the University of Illinois. On Tuesday, August 6, 2013, the Champaign City Council approved Council Bill 2013-130, “A Resolution Approving a Second Amended Ingergovernmental Agreement Between the City of Champaign, the City of Urbana, and the University of Illinois (UC2B)”, which was the final version of the agreement that incorporated all the compromises between the entities.

What all this means is that the entities agree that the best future for UC2B lies in the formation of a private, nonprofit agency, as this gives UC2B the best shot at truly competing with large, private companies. UC2B the nonprofit will have a board comprised of nine members, and each of the entities will appoint three individuals to the board. Champaign’s City Manager, The Chancellor at the University of Illinois, and the Mayor for the City of Urbana will each make appointments for their respective entity. Appointees to the board are not required to be employed by or affiliated with the appointing entity. The board of the nonprofit will potentially be similar to the current UC2B Policy Committee, a diverse group of individuals from various areas of the community.

The formation of a nonprofit does not change the goals of UC2B, but instead moves us closer to attaining those goals, particularly building out to and serving the entire community. UC2B still seeks to expand to the Cities of Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy based on some Core Principles that we find very important:

  1. The network must be fiber, not alternative technologies, offering high speeds.
  2. There must be open access to enable fair and open competition forever.
  3. The network must be built to all members of the community, with no redlining.

Community members who pledged money are still part of the expansion campaign. Some people have grown concerned that we asked for expansion pledges over a year ago and Gigabit Squared has not yet come to our community. They and other firms remain interested in our community, but before UC2B is able to partner with an entity for expansion, we needed to work out some details. The most important of those was the approval to form a 501(c)(4) nonprofit entity. Now that we have received that approval, we can begin the process of applying to actually form UC2B the nonprofit entity. During this transition period, which we anticipate will take place over the next several months, the operations of UC2B will slowly scaffold away from the Cities and the University.

Construction under the federal grant ends on September 30, 2013. The Federal grant only subsidizes construction, not operations. UC2B is not shutting down due to the end of the construction grant. Until the end of the grant period, we are still performing construction work for eligible customers who signed up before the March 1, 2013 deadline. We realize that there are people in the grant-eligible areas who want to sign up for service but missed the deadline. We also recognize that there are members of the community who may or may not have pledged money toward expansion who are interested in service outside the grant-eligible areas. Our goal is to serve the entire community through our expansion effort, and we continue to work diligently toward that goal.

UC2B remains committed to customer service. Comments for this post will be open so that you can share with us your questions and concerns. We encourage open and honest discourse, and we hope to move forward from here with continued updates and a chance to use your valuable input to inform the kind of information we provide in our updates. However, inflammatory and vulgar comments will not be tolerated, and we reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion. Additionally, comments will not post automatically, but require review. We appreciate your understanding.