Dark Fiber Paves Ill. Net

Nine Illinois cities, a county and a university will be linked with high-speed Internet connections under terms of a deal that will use the dark fiber in a state highway system’s rights-of-way for backbone.

The partners are part of the Illinois Municipal Broadband Communications Association, a nonprofit group set up to enable cities and other possible partners to share information about designing telecommunications projects. The group signed a deal with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority late in January to use fiber that’s already in place.

The broadband association has contracted to create a network with Adesta LLC, an Omaha, Neb.-based designer and builder of network infrastructures.

Adesta is an active vendor-community promoter of municipal and regional broadband projects. One of its other large endeavors is a regional fiber backbone under construction in Virginia.

The members of the broadband consortium are cities where the economy took a downturn after manufacturing facilities were closed. They believe improved access to broadband will help attract new industries.

Members of the association include Geneseo, Naperville, Peru, Princeton, Rochelle, Rock Falls, Rockford, Kane County and Northern Illinois University.

Three other member cities are of note: Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles. Those communities attempted, in partnership, to obtain voter approval for a regional broadband network in two different elections. Citizens voted down the plans, most recently late last year. Comcast Corp. serves most of the member cities.

The initial section of the network will extend from Rock Falls to Naperville, a distance of about 82 miles. Then it will grow along the right-of-way to link Rockford, Bloomington, Peoria, Freeport, Princeton and Galesburg.

The IMBCA anticipates the network will be used for education and medical initiatives, as well as high-speed data transfer.

The fiber will also be used to connect rural communities into telecommunications operations in more urban cities in an effort to revitalize economically depressed regions.