East Peoria residents may be curious about crews in the area who are digging along the front and rear of properties.
The digging is necessary to install fiber optics.
iTV-3 is bringing the fiber optic network to East Peoria.

East Peoria residents may be curious about crews in the area who are digging along the front and rear of properties. The digging is necessary to install fiber optics. iTV-3 is bringing the fiber optic network to East Peoria. Levi Dinkla, vice president of iTV-3, which is based at 331 Fulton St., Peoria, said the company evolved out of Midstate Appliance Co., which formed in 1947 in Peoria. “We were a wholesaler for mom and pop electronics and appliance stores. Rick’s TV in Pekin was one of our customers,” Dinkla said. In the late ’70s, the company began in the video rental service and Midstate Appliance folded. Today, the video portion of the company — Family Video — thrives with about 740 stores. “Back in the early 2000s, we had a dial up business in Internet called Family Online,” Dinkla said. “And we grew that to over 30,000 subscribers over the Midwest.” Dinkla said with this experience they dealt with a company in Peoria called Bitwise Communications. “They were basically who we bought dial up minutes from,” he said. “We knew dial up wasn’t going to be meeting the needs of our customers, so we sold that.” Dinkla said they wanted to provide high-speed Internet for customers instead. “We were just waiting for an opportunity to get into fiber. In 2009, we actually ended up finding out that Bitwise Communications had a little bit of fiber and had a little bit of experience with fiber and happened to be for sale,” Dinkla said. The company was purchased and eventually renamed iTV-3. iTV-3 offers Internet, television and voice services. Dinkla explained that iTV-3 is its own separate company, but owned by the same family that owns Family Video. “With iTV-3 what we saw was an opportunity. The big companies that were in communications had chosen what they called tier one cities to go and upgrade to fiber. So, if you happened to be lucky enough to live out on the east coast or in a very larger city, you were going to get this great upgrade,” Dinkla said. Communities, such as Peoria, Morton, Washington and East Peoria, were overlooked, he added. “We thought if we could come in and put the best technology in the ground, which is fiber optics, put great equipment on it and localize the service ... that was going to be a good opportunity for us to have a good business model,” Dinkla said. “Frankly we think people in East Peoria are as every bit as capable of having a technology based company or utilizing a super fast Internet connection as somebody who lives in New York or Chicago.” East Peoria City Administrator Tom Brimberry said he is happy that the service is available in East Peoria. “The City Council was pleased we were able to attract iTV-3 as a competitor to Comcast,” Brimberry said. As part of the franchise agreement between iTV-3 and the City Council in March, city buildings will receive the service for free. Dinkla said he has read that some of the worst rated customer service companies are cable TV. He added they want to change that reputation with iTV-3. “When you pick up the phone, you’re calling the call center here in Peoria. You’re not calling to another country or another state,” he said. So far, about 1,000 homes are hooked up for fiber, and Dinkla said they are getting ready to “light up” the first 300 homes in a few weeks. Sunnyland will also be included for fiber optics at a later date. Although they have had residents inquire about why they are digging, Dinkla said they have had more calls from customers asking why it’s taking so long for them to get the service. The plans, Dinkla said, are to get done installing the fiber optics for homes before the winter. Regarding feedback from those customers who do have fiber optics from iTV-3, Dinkla said they are reporting, “much faster Internet and much clearer TV.” Dinkla explained they don’t compress their television signal. Installing fiber optics is very expensive, Dinkla said, but company leaders think it will pay off. Fiber optics, Dinkla explained, is communication that is sent via laser light through glass tubes at the speed of light. “The capacity of it is tremendous. You can fit multiples of information over your current copper connection,” he said. Currently, iTV-3 offers 25, 50, 75 and 100 megabit package, which are extremely fast. Why do people need fiber optics? Dinkla said to think back to before cellphones, smartphones, Skype and the Internet. People may have thought at one time they didn’t need these things, but now can’t seem to do without them. “That’s the thing about technology. If you wait to see why you really need it, you’re probably already behind,” Dinkla said. “What fiber optics does for a community, it makes it ... so every individual has access to ultra-high bandwith which makes that community competitive with any other community in the world.” From a business standpoint with fiber optics, Dinkla said rather than purchasing every employee Windows, staff can do Cloud computing and have more upload capacity, among other benefits. “If you’re a company that uses the Internet or hosts a website or whatever, you know how important having a strong Internet presence is and having your employees be able to use it and not wait on it, or worse yet having your customers wait on it,” Dinkla said. Research in the fiber optics industry, which has been around since the 1960s, has shown that for every 1,000 homes with fiber optics, 30 new home-based businesses are created, Dinkla said. “In the new economy, roads and rivers are still very, very important. The new way of transporting your products and services if it’s not a physical service, if it’s going to be an intellectual service, and that’s going to be over the Internet, and you’re going to want to have the widest road you can get to get your products out there and that’s what fiber optics does,” Dinkla said. So far, iTV-3 has about 5,000 customers in Morton and Pekin, and now East Peoria. Dinkla said they choose which areas to target by customer demand. More than 1,000 people are signed up in East Peoria. For more information, call 689-0711 or visit www.iTV-3.com.