ROCKFORD, Nov. 6, 2014 — Comcast joined local education and business partners today to “light” the company’s 250th mile of fiber in Winnebago County.
In addition, Comcast announced that the number of Xfinity wifi hotspots in Winnebago County has reached close to 11,000 since the network launched in May 2013: more than 130 outdoor hotspots, nearly 600 in businesses and more than 10,000 in homes.
You can find a hotspot by downloading the Xfinity Wifi Finder app for iOs or Android or going to the Xfinity wifi page.
Comcast has about 150 employees and a facility in Rockford.
Officials from Rockford Career College, RPS 205 and Winnebago County were present for the conference.
“The completion of this latest leg of Comcast’s fiber network and the addition of WiFi hotspots in Rockford is one of several ways in which the company is helping to boost the region’s economy,” said Jay Dirkmaat, regional vice president of Comcast Business.
Dirkmaat said in addition to its investment in fiber and the WiFi network, Comcast plays a major role in several economic development initiatives in Rockford. The company supports and participates in Alignment Rockford, the Chamber of Commerce, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Transform Rockford and others.
“The expansion of fiber availability in Rockford allows our small- and mid-sized companies to serve customers more efficiently all over the country and world,” said Mike Nicholas, president of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council. “For instance, manufacturers can receive large engineering documents and send plans back to the customer.”
Greater Internet speeds (up to 10 Gbps) make the Rockford area more attractive to residents as well as IT-driven industries, particularly engineering and health care, Nicholas added.
This fiber helps local businesses like the RCC educate its 500 students and prepare them for careers in fields, ranging from business administration and information technology to an array of health occupations.
“High-speed, high-bandwidth Internet service is crucial to Rockford Career College and other local institutions of learning,” said George Thompson, RCC’s director of Information Technology. “Access to fiber will help the college enhance its educational offerings, and in the coming years, give the college the ability to offer e-text books and support a ‘bring your own device’ policy that will allow students to use their own laptops and mobile devices in the building.”
“Today’s digital learning strategies depend on access to large amounts of bandwidth capable of supporting thousands of students, faculty members and administrators,” added Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett. “Schools and students need Internet access, because so much education is delivered and supported by technology.”
Also at the conference, Comcast presented a $10,000 check to the Boys & Girls Club of Rockford to support its computer lab and digital literacy programs.
This marks the fourth consecutive year Comcast has supported the club’s efforts to promote Internet access and digital literacy. In total, Comcast provides about $80,000 in direct support and in-kind donations to Rockford area economic development and community investment activities.
For a gallery of photos, see the RAEDC Facebook page.