PEORIA, IL. -- A Peoria-based broadband company is expanding to Springfield, and it has not gone unnoticed by some west-side residents.
I3 BROADBAND, which has built the largest fiber-optic network in central Illinois and offers internet, television and telephone service to the Peoria and Champaign-Urbana regions, is looking “to rescue Springfield from the cable and telephone monopolies,” according to an informational sheet produced by the company.
The work laying down that network in the capital city has started in the neighborhoods bounded roughly by Veterans Parkway to the east, Koke Mill Road to the west, Old Jacksonville Road to the north and Wabash Avenue to the south.
While the company sent out mailers to residents impacted by construction, many did not get the message and were surprised when large trucks started showing up in their neighborhood and, in some cases, when utility flags were planted within the easements in their front yards.
Company officials gave a presentation before the Springfield City Council last Tuesday, hoping to address concerns that have popped up. Though construction may be disruptive, they said it usually wraps up within a few days.
“Utility network construction throughout a neighborhood can initially look overwhelming to some homeowners,” i3 general manager BRIAN OLSON told council members. “While expected to look similar to a standard utility construction project for a few days, rest assured, that’s where the similarities end.”
“Within about a week, the average homeowner will typically see the restoration being completed as part of the overlapping process, while the construction crews move to another street,” he continued. “Our primary focus is providing quality information, following it with quality construction, and being responsive to resident’s needs.”
JOSH BRADBURY, the company’s director of sales, said letters were sent out to affected homeowners on Oct. 29. Residents were then invited to an open house with company officials.
Olson, in a follow up email Friday afternoon, said the company is "hopeful to activate the first areas under construction near the end of this month." Currently, the company's Springfield footprint is just under 1,000 homes with "thousands more planned for 2020," he said.
The company also plans to open a retail location in White Oaks Plaza, 3001 S. Veterans Pkwy., in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, the Springfield City Council will debate this week a change to city code that would allow the city to charge i3 and similar companies a 5% “provider fee” for the use of the public right of way.
According to city attorney Jim Zerkle, the change covers companies that received approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission for use of the R.O.W. instead of obtaining it through a franchise agreement with the city.
“The state law provisions allow for certain defined companies to apply for authority to operate within the public right of ways without a local franchise agreement,” Zerkle said. “And in this case, this is one of the first instances where that circumstance has occurred.”
The ordinance also allows the city to enforce customer service and privacy protection standards with respect to complaints received by residents in the city.