Internet Provider Plans to Reach New Communities by March

By Jeff Raasch, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Internet provider SpeedConnect has doubled its data bandwidth capacity and plans to offer service in three new Eastern Iowa communities soon.

The expansion from 300 to 600 megabytes of bandwidth took place last week and will enable the company to broaden its coverage area. It also allows more customers to stream movies, live television and gaming applications at peak times without stoppages, known as buffering.

Area Vice President Tony Lounsberry said the company hopes most customers don’t notice the change.

“The objective is that the customers don’t notice it at all,” Lounsberry said. “The objective is that the customers just receive a great experience with their Internet connection. When they start to notice it, it’s usually on a negative level.”

Frankenmuth, Mich.-based SpeedConnect, which uses cell phone towers, water towers and rooftops to transmit its broadband signal, debuted in Iowa in 2010 and now has customers in more than two dozen communities in the east-central part of the state. Lounsberry said three new Iowa communities should have service by the end of March, but he would not identify them due to pending contracts.

Lounsberry anticipates the number of customers in the region to grow steadily again this year, after increases of 22 percent and 18 percent the last two years, respectively.

“We fully expect in Eastern Iowa and Illinois, another 15 to 20 percent in growth this year,” Lounsberry said. “We’re already 2 percent ahead of where we ended in 2012, and that’s just the first month.”

Lounsberry said the current upgrade was necessary as technology advances. He said it has become more popular to stream content, especially onto mobile devices.

He noted that it is now possible to stream satellite television on a cell phone.

Discussions are under way for another upgrade within the next year, he said.

“You give customers more bandwidth, and they like to use it,” Lounsberry said.

The cost of the upgrade was accounted for in the company’s budget and will not be passed along to customers, Lounsberry said.

“We’re not always going to be the least expensive, and we’re not always going to be the fastest, but we do have a certain level of commitment to our customers in terms of our buffer-free experience and taking good care of them if there is an issue,” Lounsberry said. “We’re still a small company, so we always have a local presence.”

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