Rockford getting another fiber optic provider

Uniti Uniti Fiber

Susan Vela with Rockford Register Star provides an overview of fiber expansion in the Rock River Valley in Rockford, Illinois.

ROCKFORD – A Florida company wants to compete for the Rock River Valley’s largest fiber optic customers by installing 50 miles of new high-speed lines by the end of the year.

Uniti Fiber intends to expand its network in communities that include Rockford, Loves Park, Machesney Park and the village of Cherry Valley.

The company is targeting governments, hospitals and businesses that would benefit from high-bandwidth internet service capable of moving information at up to 200 gigabits per second. The network will not be available to households.

“This investment brings to Rockford the ‘big city’ infrastructure technology and capabilities larger markets have experienced for years,” said Ron Mudry, Uniti Fiber’s president. “This investment solidifies potential growth opportunities for the region, particularly for industries like health care, data centers, financial services and other companies requiring high-speed networks looking to establish a presence in these regions.”

Company officials are promising increased availability to expanded network services and other benefits, like high-impact video streaming.

Promising to invest more than $5 million in the project, Uniti Fiber will approach local governments in coming months for approval to install lines above ground and below.

“Anytime a community can improve its technology and bandwidth, it is good for economic development,” said Einar Forsman, president and chief executive officer of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. “It’s probably going to be good for the consumer. The only concern I would have is whether all these companies are under the same rules and guidelines.”

Dan Jacobson, Loves Park’s public works director, said he’ll focus on right of way issues when reviewing Uniti’s permit application to install fiber optic lines.