Gilberts looking at fiber optic connection for all by end of 2013

The village of Gilberts struck a deal with a company based in England to provide the option of a fiber optic connection for all residents and businesses by the end of 2013, officials said.

The village entered into an agreement this week with the company i3, which will build the network by running fiber optic cables inside the village’s sewer lines, Village President Rick Zirk said. There is no cost to the city, he said.

“It’s really a no-loss situation for the village. It’s clear the risk is minimal,” Zirk said. “We’ll be only community in this whole area that will have this type of technology capacity.”

Representatives from i3 America didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. On the company website the only reference to a U.S. location is the city of Sandy, Ore.

The network connecting municipal buildings and others such as Gilberts Elementary School will be done by Aug. 31, said William Beith, assistant to the village administrator. By the end of 2013, all will have the ability to sign up for Internet and TV service with local providers that will use the network to deliver service.

“Triple play — video, voice and Internet ... at very, very high speed,” Beith said.

Right now, service providers don’t reach all addresses in Gilberts because they still have to build their own cable networks, Beith said. i3 will build the network at its own cost — an estimated $4.5 million value — and then charge providers, he said.

The economic development opportunities are immense, Beith said.

“Now you can look at something like a call center, an Amazon fulfillment center, a data storage business (coming to Gilberts),” he said. “It could be radiologists from Sherman Hospital who can read film. Or a nursing home with video links to the hospital,” he said.

One digital and video production business already decided to move to Gilberts instead of a community to the east because of the future fiber optics availability, Zirk said.

Gilberts was able to strike the deal because of its proximity to the already existing backbone of optic fiber lines that run along Interstate 90, officials pointed out.

“For places like Elburn or Campton Hills, the cost to get to backbone is huge. It’s miles and miles,” Beith said.

Beith acknowledged there are risks of going with something this new.

“I’m sure there are going to be some mistakes, but I’m confident we can overcome that. ... We’re just using technology that is tried and true, and repackaging it in a different way.”

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