We need your help.
To identify McHenry County areas that have a demand for fiber-optic broadband Internet service, we need to gather that input from you, the community.
It provides us that critical information to show elected officials, leaders, and our communities that there is a real need by filling out the Broadband Survey.
How do you feel about your Internet service?
Does cheaper, faster Internet with more competition interest you?
Completing the survey is the first step to community-owned fiber-optics.
- No competition
- Services are expensive and slow
- Coverage and access is not universal
- The cost goes up year after year and adds on many fees
- Customer service is awful
- The incumbents stifle our ability for innovation and economic growth
The lack of competition, cost-effective, high-speed Internet connectivity negatively impacts many aspects of our community.
We can do better with Internet Freedom.
The Solution: Internet Freedom
We Can Save Money and Get More Options
Benefits of Community Fiber-Optic Network
- Job Creation: Attract new businesses and enable further growth of our current small businesses. Fiber networks draw in new companies and accelerate entrepreneurial activity.
Like Greensboro, NC, Lafayette, LA, and Chattanooga, many other communities experienced revitalization.
- Better Healthcare: Tele-medicine removes distance barriers to cutting-edge medical technology for those that cannot travel safely or are in an emergency. Elderly, military veterans and other patients can be diagnosed, treated, and monitored from home. The Elderly can live at home longer, reducing eldercare's cost and improving the quality of life in later years.
- Education: Fast Internet and video services enhance educational efforts at all levels. This is particularly important for adult learners who are utilizing online learning to retrain for new jobs. Children can get their homework done. Parents can register their children without leaving home.
- Enhanced Lifestyle: Instant downloads and uploads of media sharing like videos. Buffer-free Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more. Work from home is seamless and productive. Provide much faster, cost-effective, reliable internet service to all McHenry County residents and businesses.
- Local Control: Provide a locally controlled resource that will benefit residents and businesses, not corrupt Illinois politicians or far away corporations. Protected for ages to protect our investment.
- Free Market Choices: Dislike your Internet Provider? We will have more choices to choose from—true free-market principles in action in McHenry County, leading to lower costs and innovation.
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 McHenry 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.
Filling out the survey is how we get better Internet
Many of our elected officials are not convinced that the Internet is an essential utility or that people are unhappy with the slow, expensive Internet services they get. Still, we can change their mind with your help.
Completing the survey and letting us know about your Internet service is the first step to better Internet service. It helps prove to our elected officials that there is a need for something better.