IFMC is a non-profit 501(c)4 membership-based organization that here to drive civic action, promote, and advocate for Internet Freedom.
Who Are we?
Who are we?
IFMC is a non-profit 501(c)4 membership-based organization that drives civic action, promotes, and advocates for Internet Freedom.
IFMC started in 2018 as an informal group of concerned citizens from around McHenry County concerned about the lack of competition and connectivity. We incorporated in 2019, and David Gutowsky, President, and Founder head the organization.
Resident of Greenwood Township
Resident of Dunham Township
Resident of Algonquin Township
In our by-laws, we describe our purpose to drive civic action, promote, and advocate for Internet Freedom, including digital rights, freedom of information, community-owned fiber-optic networks, the right to Internet access, freedom from Internet censorship, and supporting net neutrality.
When we started in 2018, we started with the general goal of advocating for a community-owned broadband network, but we were not sure what kind of model McHenry County would be receptive to. There are many different types of community-owned broadband networks out there, ranging from non-profit co-ops, municipal-owned and ran, municipally-owned and leased out, municipally-owned and open-access, township-owned, and many more.
To better understand the economic and political situation of McHenry County, we started informally by talking with elected officials, various leaders, the public at large. After about a year of gathering opinions, we heard a common thread of fears and desires described below.
Common Thread of Complaints:
Incorporated and unincorporated areas are unhappy with their Internet service. It did not matter which Internet Service Provider it was, but the complaints ranged from slow speed, lack of competition, reliability, customer service, price, or a combination.
Private-Sector Is Not Willing:
We heard from individuals and elected-officials that incumbents (Comcast, Charter, AT&T, etc.) refused to expand and compete. We spoke to several municipalities and these municipalities attempted to resolve the issue of access through traditional means of speaking to the incumbents, but it never went anywhere. Even more recently, we heard a state-level representative tried to work with our local cable and telephone companies for months to expand service just a quarter-mile, and they just flat out refused. Claimed it was not profitable fast-enough. The private-sector has turned down numerous requests to expand or compete.
Many parts of the world operate an open-access network, which has many Internet Service Providers on a single fiber-optic cable. Publicly owned, open-access networks can create a vibrant and innovative market for telecommunications services. Municipalities build the physical infrastructure (fiber-optic lines, wireless access points, etc.), and independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operate in a competitive market using the same physical network. In this competitive marketplace, ISPs compete for customers and have incentives to innovate rather than simply locking out competitors with a de facto monopoly.
Nobody Wants a Government Community-Owned Broadband:
Many municipalities throughout the United States have built their own fiber-optic network, and they are very successful for those communities. In Illinois, we have a few community-owned fiber-optic networks in Highland, Rock Falls, Campaign-Urbana. More recently, Western Springs has shown interest in creating their own community-owned fiber-optic network. In McHenry County, we can too build a successful community-owned fiber-optic network.
In McHenry County, there are large trust issues because our elected officials have, and continue to, betray our trust. After speaking to hundreds of community leaders and speaking with the government administrators, we heard a common thread that nobody wants to run and nor do they want the government to run it.
The solution to this is we should create a non-profit utility co-operative that owns and maintains the fiber-optic assets, which is owned by those who utilize the services. That way, the fiber-optics are protected and will not be subjected to the changing political or financial winds.
Internet Freedom for McHenry County ("IFMC") is primarily advocating for three things in McHenry County.
- Fiber-optic infrastructure to everyone;
- This fiber-optic infrastructure shall be open-access, which means open competition with multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on that fiber-optic line to your home or business; and
- This infrastructure is community-owned. Locally controlled. Specifically, a utility co-operative, which users of this network are part-owners, similar to a credit union or an electric co-op. Not government-run or owned.
We need your support.