They can dig it: Plenty of active permits for telecom companies, others to be in yards

CHAMPAIGN, IL. — If you live in Champaign and wonder which utility is responsible for the flags on stakes and crews digging in your yard, it may be AT&T or i3 Broadband.

Both companies have active permits from the city to install fiber lines for high-speed internet in multiple areas.

Permits have been issued to AT&T to work in the Bristol Place subdivision in the northeast, the Ashland Park subdivision north of Interstate Drive and Prospect Avenue, and the Turnberry Ridge and Glenshire subdivisions in the city’s southwest, said Harman Jordan, the city’s right-of-way inspector.

Jordan said i3 Broadband has permits to work in Bristol Place; Turnberry Ridge, Glenshire and the Maynard Lake subdivision in southwest Champaign; and an area in the city’s south bordered by Devonshire Drive on the north, Harrington Drive on the south, Robert Drive on the east and Mattis Avenue on the west.

If you live elsewhere in Champaign or in Urbana, a host of other utilities also have active permits to do work on your property easement or right-of-way.

In Champaign, there were seven active permits to dig as of Wednesday. In addition to AT&T and i3 Broadband, that included Ameren Illinois, Illinois American Water, Campus Communications Group, Volo Broadband and Illinois Network Alliance, according to Assistant City Engineer Tony Vandeventer.

Utilities with active utility and right-of-way permits to dig in Urbana include i3 Broadband, Ameren Illinois, Illinois American Water, AT&T, Consolidated Communications and Comcast, said public works Director Tim Cowan.

AT&T announced in March that it would continue throughout this year rolling out multi-gig speeds across its fiber footprint and increasing the density of fiber in Champaign and other cities in Illinois.

“We continually invest in and work to expand our network, including our fiber footprint in communities like Champaign,” said an emailed statement from AT&T. “Our investment decisions are based on the capacity needs of the network, demand for our services and budget.”

As network expansions continue, the company said, “more of our customers will have access to high-speed broadband, whether provided over our wireless network, our traditional fiber network or a combination of both.”

Urbana-based Volo Broadband has a project underway west of Neil Street along State Street, according to its CEO, Peter Folk.

“Our expansion model is a little different from most,” he said. “We don’t do the build-it-and-they-will-come approach.”

Volo will expand in an area where a number of people have called and asked for the service, he said.

Cowan and Vandeventer both said companies with permits in their cities have six months to get the work done, though the permits can be extended.

For those who want to know exactly which company is currently working in their neighborhoods, a staff member in each of the cities’ public works departments will have that information, they said.

People with complaints about how their properties were left as a result of the work can also pass them on to Champaign and Urbana public works.

Whom to ask for? In Urbana, Cowan said residents should ask for the right-of-way engineering technician in the engineering division.

“He is performing intermittent observation of all the work happening throughout the city related to this permit process, so he will know who is doing it, good contact information and what the standard expectation for performance is,” Cowan said.

Cowan also said Urbana has been working on enhancing its public notification requirements for utility companies working within right-of-way areas to try and more directly connect citizens with the companies performing the work.

Vandeventer said Champaign residents with questions or complaints about utility work in their yards should contact Harman in public works.