By FRED KRONER
More choices became available for some Mahomet residents earlier last week.
Fiber internet connections have gone from the concept and planning stages to reality for residents in the newest section of Hunter’s Ridge on the east side of town, just north of Route 150.
Rob Frerichs, the developer of Unlimited Homes, is working on 90 new homes in the area as well as two four-unit townhomes, and he made fiber a priority.
“One of the biggest things homeowners are concerned about is not watching TV (through cable), but having internet,” Frerichs said. “It’s part of the responsibility of the developer to provide it.
“Hunter’s Ridge is the starting point. The intention is to serve the whole new part of the subdivision.”
For people moving into the townhomes, access to the fiber will be included in their lease.
Fiber had previously been laid in the ground, making the area an ideal starting point for residences.
The Village of Mahomet was one of two businesses to pay the additional cost for fiber when it became available along Main Street.
Village Administrator Patrick Brown wasn’t surprised to hear about the availability expanding into Mahomet’s residential market.
“There seems to be a demand for alternative internet,” Brown said.
Frerichs made the move to step forward and provide the infrastructure to make sure the project could move forward.
“That’s the first partnership we’ve seen between a developer and a provider company,” Brown said.
Some homeowner associations — including Sandy Ridge — have held meetings to learn details about getting set up with fiber.
According to Peter Folk, the CEO of Urbana-based provider Volo.net, the advantage of fiber is, “it’s a lot faster.”
Another selling point is the reliability and the ability to do multiple downloads or uploads simultaneously.
The access process happens in stages, starting with “putting in the backbone to an area, then going through the neighborhood and then signing up individual homes,” Folk said.
There is not a definite timetable for when residents can be assured of service.
“If there is sufficient interest, it could be as little as a month or two, but more likely six months to a year,” Folk said. “We haven’t marketed it yet, but we’ve gotten a good response from the people we’ve talked to.”
Though the first areas to be serviced this week are on the east side of the village, Folk expects that will change.
“It will filter through all of Mahomet in time,” he said.
Initial movement is taking place this month, but Folk said the plan has long been in the works.
“We’ve had it on the radar for about a decade,” he said.
Brown said it won’t necessarily be residents within the village limits that receive the access first.
In some sections of the village (such as Lake of the Woods Road), unincorporated areas are surrounded by segments that are within the village limits.
“You won’t skip a whole (unincorporated) section,” Brown said.
Installation won’t be predetermined.
“New areas will advocate on their own,” Folk said.
Some hookups may be easier than others.
“Fiber exists throughout Mahomet, that connects cell towers,” Brown said. “It has gone through several areas.”
The ultimate impact extends far beyond the ability to simply have high-speed internet in homes for personal or recreational use.
“Fiber is important to businesses and it’s important to a lot of residents who have stay-at-home businesses or jobs where they work at home,” Brown said.
Hookups will have significance to the Mahomet-Seymour School District beyond its own buildings.
“With the school going to chrome books (this fall), reliability is important in kids’ homes,” Brown said. “It’s almost essential for everyone to have internet.
“This helps the goal of the school district. What they need is for students to have access.”
Residents in Country Ridge could also be in line to gain early access to the high-speed fiber.
As the movement gains steam, some typically expected delays could be minimized.
“There is deregulation with the internet and they don’t need permission from the Village to ease the right of way (during the fiber installation process),” Brown said. “They won’t need to get a franchise agreement.”
In areas where there is currently no existing fiber — such as Eastwood Drive — the process will move along more slowly.