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By DAVE HINTON
Rantoul Press editor
THOMASBORO — A new fiber-optic system that will provide high-speed Internet, telephone and cable television service will be installed in Thomasboro this year.
The village board approved a franchise agreement with Volo Broadband, a Champaign-based company, at its monthly meeting last week.
“We’ll be one of the few communities in the state, and maybe the only small community in the state, to offer fiber-optic service,” Mayor Tony Grilo said.
He said the company already has a conduit in the ground running from Urbana along U.S. 45 to Thomasboro.
“So they just have to extend the fiber into town,” Grilo said. “They just have to build the network from there.”
He said the system should be hooked up by mid-summer, depending on the weather.
“There will be a lot of horizontal boring and plowing in town,” Grilo said.
Mediacom currently serves Thomasboro and has a non-exclusive franchise agreement. Grilo said the village modeled the Volo franchise agreement “somewhat off the Mediacom franchise agreement.”
While Mediacom provides cable TV to village hall at no charge, Volo will now provide free Internet access to village hall.
Anthony Grilo, the mayor’s son, is director of operations for Volo. He said Thomasboro will be the first community in the area to receive the fiber-optic system.
He said other area communities, including Rantoul, could receive the service in the future, but he said it would take time.
“Unfortunately, being such a small company, these things are kind of taken step by step,” he said. “Thomasboro was really a nice option because of its smaller size and access to backbone fiber.”
Anthony Grilo said Thomasboro will be used as a testbed for Volo’s “digital water” services.
Digital water means that the capacity customers need is available “the instant you turn on the tap,” according to Volo CEO Peter Folk.
“To make that cost-effective, with digital water you pay for a base guaranteed rate of minimum connectivity but almost always have access to much higher rates,” Folk said.
Rates will range from $30 a month to $60 a month.
“We’re big pushers of Internet TV, things like that,” Anthony Grilo said.
Volo was formed 11 years ago as a primarily wireless Internet service provider. For the last five years it has also been heavily involved in fiber deployment, services and maintenance in Champaign, Urbana, Bloomington, Normal and Paxton.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the board formally approved Jeremy Reale as village clerk. He succeeds Becky Quinlan, who announced in October her plans to resign at the end of 2012.