In 2009, in hopes of stimulating the economy, the United States government passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This $787 billion stimulus package focused on three areas—spending money on infrastructure, aid to local and state governments, and tax cuts.
From this act, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) was able to sponsor a $4 billion grant called the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP). The goal of BTOP was to help close the digital divide, create jobs, expand broadband infrastructure, and enhance education, public safety, and community interests.
NTIA selected 123 Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects, including UC2B. This project became a collaboration between the University of Illinois and the cities of Urbana and Champaign. This team set out to construct a fiber-optic cable network in order to provide broadband service to community anchor institutions (see Partner page for more information) and households in the community who were underserved or unserved. For specifics about the original award, please see the BTOP page.
During the grant period (2010 – 2012), UC2B exceeded the goals it set out to achieve. It laid the foundational fiber-optic cable, connected anchor institutions, and provided families with broadband services. After the grant period, UC2B has continued to provide broadband service, in partnerships with other broadband providers.
Key accomplishments of the initial project phase (2009-2012)
- Constructed 187 miles of fiber-optic broadband network cables providing broadband service to 1,058 households.
- 294 key community anchor institutions were connected to broadband network, including Champaign and Urbana school districts, Champaign Public Library, Urbana Public Library, Willard Airport, CU MTD, and other local public safety agencies.
- i3 Broadband is the new management and operations company of Uc2B. i3 Broadband plans to aggressively expand the system to provide its “triple play” of Gigabit Internet access, television and telephone services throughout the greater Champaign and Urbana area.
- CountryWide Broadband (CWB) announced that iTV-3, LLC, a newly formed company wholly owned by CWB and Seaport Capital of New York, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of iTV-3 Inc., a gigabyte, all fiber-to-the-premises system serving Peoria, Champaign, Urbana and other communities in Central Illinois. UC2B is currently in a contractual relationship with iTV-3 Inc. In UC2B’s agreement with iTV-3, the Cities of Champaign and Urbana have a right of first refusal should iTV-3 offer its assets to another entity. The Cities have asked UC2B to gather information about their options for moving forward. UC2B has no authority to negotiate on behalf of the Cities and no authority to make any commitments whatsoever on behalf of the Cities. Note: iTV-3 Inc is a wholly owned subsidiary of Highland Ventures, Ltd.
- UC2B joins US Ignite Smart Gigabit Initiative, a NSF funded program
- UC2B establishes Community Benefit Fund which provides monetary support for increased digital literacy and access to technology. For more information on the Community Benefit Fund, see our page devoted to this project.
- Work under iTV3 and UC2B began in May 2014.
- UC2B joins Next Century Cities Initiative
- UC2B announces partnership with iTV3, Inc. This partnership ensured growth of broadband infrastructure as well as offering more options for potential customers (including phone and TV services).
- Construction continued to connect homes and businesses in Urbana-Champaign
- UC2B was granted an extension to finish the work started in 2010
- UC2B awarded the 2012 Community Broadband Project of the Year by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors
- UC2B began to look for partners to expand broadband services after grant period
- UC2B began building network infrastructure, celebrated with a community groundbreaking event
- Canvassing began to encourage local residents to take part in the broadband initiative and to learn more about community needs related to Internet access
- UC2B was established and organized with an official governance structure
- UC2B worked with local anchor institutions to establish long-term relationships
- Staff were hired to support the infrastructure phase of the project
- Supplies and materials were purchased to begin building the infrastructure
- UC2B become original members of the US Ignite grant
- The Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) was launched by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Department of Commerce, National Telecommunication and Information Administration
- BTOP awarded the University of Illinois the funds to begin developing broadband infrastructure