NATOA Announces 2012 Community Broadband Award Winner

The Urbana Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) project has been awarded the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) 2012 Community Broadband Project of the Year. The award recognizes UC2B “for deploying an innovative, open-access Fiber to the Home network, and turning on its head the traditional model of starting with the most lucrative areas by prioritizing first low-income and unserved communities.”

Upon announcement of the award, Michael K. Smeltzer – UC2B Principal Investigator and CITES Director of Networking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign stated, “The UC2B team is honored by this recognition from NATOA. It takes more than a community to build a gigabit community broadband network, and we have been blessed with support from our friends in Washington and Springfield. It is fitting that on the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which President Lincoln signed into law in 1862, the University of Illinois continues to provide leadership and service to the community in the great tradition of land-grant universities.”

“We are committed to growing our broadband infrastructure to connect every corner of our great state,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “I would like to congratulate the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband project, and I would like to thank them for their innovation and tireless efforts to make a difference in their community.”

Champaign Mayor Don Gerard also recognizes the importance of this national award and commented that “Our community continues to be on the forefront of local broadband deployment. UC2B is a catalyst for innovation and economic development and will have a positive long-term impact on the quality of life for our residents.”

Brandon Bowersox-Johnson, Chair of the UC2B Policy Committee and Urbana City Council Member, said “The digital divide and the limited availability of truly high-speed broadband are challenges for communities around the U.S. UC2B is thrilled to be recognized by NATOA and we are eager to share our experiences as a model for other communities to seize the opportunity to build world-class broadband.”

In 2010, UC2B received a $22.5 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant from the US Department of Commerce and a $3.5 million Illinois Jobs Now grant from the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Local public and private partners provided $3.4 million in matching funds.

UC2B is an intergovernmental consortium of the Cities of Urbana and Champaign and the University of Illinois organized to construct and operate a fiber optic network throughout the community and to connect community anchor institutions and residents and businesses in underserved areas of our communities.

For more information about UC2B or NATOA, visit or