The topic of city-wide residential broadband Internet service brought about lengthy discussion Monday night at the Jacksonville City Council. Morgan County Planning Commission Chairman Dusty Douglas said that he has had recent discussions with the group I3, an Illinois-based broadband provider to possibly bring the service to Jacksonville. Douglas says that I3 has a familiar person involved. “We have had a couple of meetings with I3. We met with one of the gentlemen, Dan Kennedy, several years ago when we did a feasibility study in conjunction with the RBC, who was working with the city. He was in the city of Highland and is with I3 now. Several members of the city council know him and we’ve continued a relationship with him. After meeting with them, they have taken over a large project in the city of Champaign and working in the city of Springfield and are kind of heading our direction. They are interested in providing fiber to the premises here in town, community wide. With that, I kind of put that idea in front of the council to get their thoughts. I know the timing is not great with the pandemic, but at the same time, a lot of people are home using the Internet pretty hard, so it was an interesting discussion.”
Douglas says that the city would have to commit $2.5 million to the project if they wish to proceed. “We are looking at a $12.5 million project. The city would be providing $2.5 million and essentially through that partnership, that would allow it to get going in a quick period of time, and also as a part of that, the city would get some of its own strands of fiber downtown that they could do different things with like manage traffic lights and that type of thing. Essentially, the large focus of it would be to get to residences and the scope is about $12.5 million.”
Douglas said at the council meeting Monday night that if the council were to green light the project, it could be started as early as late June or early July with completion of the infrastructure portion of the project done by 2021. Some portions of Jacksonville would possibly have access to the broadband service before then.
I3 is currently offering via their website residential packages for gigabit plus 200 megabyte per second speed Internet for $89.99 per month with no data caps with an introductory price of $44.99 per month in the Springfield area. Douglas says that the speeds coupled with the price would have the best Internet package for consumers in Jacksonville. “Depending upon the package in comparison to the dominant provider here in town, I’m thinking it would probably triple the speed that’s being provided with no data caps, which is obviously important as everyone is at home watching the Disney Channel and getting their kids online to take care of their schoolwork. It certainly sounds promising. We’ve got more work and more discussion to go, but it certainly sounds promising.”
Douglas says I3 is focused on the residential side of Internet service, but it brings obvious regional economic development benefits. He says it may certainly court the idea of procuring a data center to Jacksonville if the project were to come to fruition. To learn more about I3, visit I3broadband.com for more information.