Expansion has always been an integral component of UC2B’s long-term growth plan. The business plan adopted in 2012 by all the member entities of the consortium outlined that expanding to the entire community was a necessary step for UC2B to remain viable. To this end, UC2B has been seeking to expand since the adoption of that business plan.
The expansion effort began in July, 2012, when we took monetary pledges in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by a company called Gigabit Squared. Members of our community could pledge money toward demonstrating that their neighborhood was interested in receiving our service. This model was popularized by Google Fiber when it developed “fiberhoods” in Kansas City, Missouri. While our pledge collection was initially motivated by a desire to demonstrate our community’s interest in one company, we simultaneously decided to issue our own Request for Information (RFI) to explore creative ideas and funding options a potential partner might present to build out our network. We received a handful of viable responses to that RFI.
Before we could partner with any private company, it was crucial for us to become a not-for-profit (NFP) entity so that we could do business nimbly and effectively in the telecommunications industry. Before we could form an NFP, we had to seek and gain approval from each of the entities of the intergovernmental consortium – the University of Illinois, the City of Champaign, and the City of Urbana. This required action by the city councils of both cities, and the chancellor at the University. All of the member entities approved the creation of a not-for-profit to take over the daily responsibilities of UC2B, as well as to function as a steward for the future of the network and the internet service provider.
UC2B’s initial grant was set to expire on January 31, 2013, but it was clear as we approached that date that we would not be able to complete all the work we wanted to accomplish by then. We sought approval from the NTIA for a time extension of our grant. No additional funds were requested by or given to UC2B, but our request for a time extension was granted, and we were given until September 30, 2013 to finish building under the provisions of the grant. Within a few weeks after the official end of the grant period, UC2B NFP held its first Board of Directors meeting. On Tuesday, October 29, 2013, the nine directors met for the first time to adopt all transitional items from the Consortium, to establish a meeting schedule, and to consider the future of UC2B. You can read more about the directors here.
On May 29, 2014, UC2B announced a partnership with iTV-3 to operate and extend fiber-optic broadband in Urbana and Champaign. iTV-3 will operate the existing UC2B network and will extend gigabit fiber-optic internet services to more areas of the community. C-U will be among the few elite communities in the U.S. with gigabit fiber-optic internet.
The partnership gives every area of Champaign-Urbana an equal opportunity to receive gigabit service. iTV-3, a Family Video company, will be taking online subscriptions for households and businesses at www.theperfectupgrade.com and information for signing up will be available in person at C-U’s 3 Family Video stores. iTV-3 agrees to build fiber infrastructure in any area of the community where 50% of the potential customers subscribe.