Business

Mediacom brings high-speed Internet to rural DeKalb County

Phyllis Peters, communications director of New York-based Mediacom, explains the company's plan to bring 1-gigabyte-per-second Internet to 348 communities in Illinois on Tuesday at the Daily Chronicle office. While the service won't be available in DeKalb or Sycamore, it will be in surrounding, smaller communities, in step with the company's grand plan to stay out of big cities but put rural communities on equal technological footing.
Phyllis Peters, communications director of New York-based Mediacom, explains the company's plan to bring 1-gigabyte-per-second Internet to 348 communities in Illinois on Tuesday at the Daily Chronicle office. While the service won't be available in DeKalb or Sycamore, it will be in surrounding, smaller communities, in step with the company's grand plan to stay out of big cities but put rural communities on equal technological footing.

Want to live off the beaten path, but also want the luxury of high-speed Internet? New York-based Mediacom has an offer for you.

The cable and Internet provider is bringing 1-gigabyte service to smaller communities – in fact, customers in Cortland, Kirkland and Malta can already get into the fast lane of the company’s information superhighway. The service is slated to go live in Hinckley, Shabbona and Somonauk and Waterman in July.

Those are just a handful of the 348 Illinois communities where the service either is available or will be soon.

So, how fast is 1 gig per second? Mediacom’s communications director, Phyllis Peters, said it takes about 28 seconds to download a two-hour HD movie.

Speed doesn’t come cheap, though. Peters said the service’s regular price is $139.99 a month, but that number can drop as low as $89.99 during specials. She said the company is also adding a more affordable, lower tier at 500 megs per second.

In 2016, Mediacom began a plan to invest $1 billion over three years. It mainly bought up rural territory where other providers – AT&T, predominantly – stopped investing.

“In smaller communities, residents often believe the myth that people have to live in the urban cities to enjoy amenities like newest technology and fastest broadband speed,” Peters said. “There’s no difference between what someone is using on the coasts, compared to people here in Illinois – we all are streaming in our homes. People in rural American and suburban areas – to avoid the commute – need broadband just as much.

“They want it, and they have just as much interest in vampires or whatever they want to watch.”

Peters lauds Mediacom CEO Rocco B. Commisso for having the vision and the guts to pull the trigger.

“He kind of took a risk,” Peters said. “Either you sit on the porch and watch the big dogs go fast, or you run with the pack. We want to lead the pack.”

Mediacom has traditionally strived to stay a step or 10 ahead of Comcast and other companies. In 2009, when the broadband platform of the future, DOCSIS 3.1, came into being Mediacom set the new speed threshold at 105 megabytes per second – a shade faster than Comcast’s 100, Peters said.

In 15 years, she said the company’s baseline Internet speed has gone from 1.5 megabytes per second to 60.

That sort of bandwidth is becoming more and more necessary, Peters said. After all, it's being chewed up by more than Netflix. Families are cutting the cable cord altogether. Tablets and iPads are replacing spiral-bound notebooks and workbooks for students.

Think about all those apps we use at home and away from home.

“You can be in Miami and answer the doorbell here in DeKalb County,” Peters said.

The high-speed Internet won’t be coming to DeKalb or Sycamore. Mediacom’s network keys on rural and suburban communities, so as to not overlap with big cities’ providers, such as Comcast.

To put Mediacom’s emphasis on Illinois, specificially, in perspective, its recent launch in Georgia brought high-speed Internet to 52 communities. The company does business in 22 states.

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