As the primary fiber installation crews wind-up their work, staff from Patriot Communications is busy installing internet services to homes. iVinton's internet service is completely managed by the local utility, and internet customers are being connected as quickly as Patriot can do the work.
The project includes more than 34 miles of mainline fiber, and 42.5 miles of fiber to residences and businesses have been installed. There are now 1,488 locations with duct for fiber that has been installed. Crews are still installing duct to individual residences, and other crew members are splicing the fiber together in the utility boxes that contain connections back to the equipment building.
All three services (video, internet, and voice) are being offered by iVinton. The video signal is coming from Cedar Falls Utilities and the telephone service will be provided by ImOn Communications, located in Cedar Rapids. ImOn is also responsible for providing the billing system for all three services.
Upgrades to the iVinton website now provide some additional ways for residents to get information or reserve services. One new feature, the "I Have A Contract" button, allows residents to share when the contract with their current service provider is due to renew and to request that services start shortly before that date. Another feature, "I'm Still On The Fence," provides an option for uploading a photo of the bill currently being received for any of the services offered by iVinton so iVinton staff can provide a price comparison. iVinton staff is also available by phone at 319-472-3255.
Fast and reliable internet service has become more critical since Vinton began work on the project last summer. Internet traffic has soared because of the increase in remote work and the need to provide remote learning opportunities for Vinton-Shellsburg students caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix have all had double-digit traffic increases. Zoom suddenly became the world's 2nd most popular downloaded app. In one week alone, Zoom added nearly 20 million mobile users. Schools have scrambled to provide internet connections for students without access at home, and classrooms have moved online.
Nationally, small towns are among the most poorly served areas. Many rural areas have high-speed connections through what once were telephone cooperatives, and many rural electric cooperatives have also begun providing services. Vinton is one of five Iowa communities actively working to install fiber systems. Those towns include Pella, New Hampton, Charles City, and Fort Dodge. All five towns will be offering municipally-owned internet, phone, and TV services with Vinton in full-swing yet this year while most others will be offering services beginning in 2021.
iVinton is in full turn-up mode now that the installation process is almost complete. Final testing is nearing completion, and the entire system will be going live very soon. After many years of research and work by the citizens of Vinton, the fulfillment of the gigabit community dream is at hand. As Vinton moves into the future, it will be in control of its digital future, and subscribers will be building a stronger community through their locally owned utility.