Ice Storm February 2023

Hopefully, everyone survived the ice storm. From speaking with some members, members experienced internet and power outages for many hours. According to news reports, in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and New York, high winds and freezing rains left some 900,000 homes and businesses without power on Thursday morning, according to ComEd worked to restore power for over 23,000 households, mainly in our northern suburbs, after the storm hit.

There isn’t any information from the major news outlets about how the outage impacted many Internet customers, but the fact that there was an outage is unacceptable. Many communities with community-owned fiber-optic networks experience no downtime in similar weather because the fiber-optic lines were underground.

We checked with McHenry County officials to inquire if they had experienced any Internet issues. They experienced no downtime because back in 2015, they built their own community-owned co-op fiber-optic network, McHenry County Broadband Fiber Network Consortium (“Consortium”); now, their marketing name is 1447 Network, and put all of it underground.

If we had a free market in McHenry County, we would have experienced fewer or no outages with our Internet connectivity. The Consortium’s business model needs to be changed to provide a real viable alternative to our cable and telecom Internet providers in McHenry County. However, it has yet to, and thus our situation does not improve.

We can do better.

Contact your local elected officials. Make your story heard. Demand better infrastructure!