ImOn accelerates expansion into Iowa City

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ImOn Communications is tripling the pace of its 2021 expansion of Internet and phone service in Iowa City.

The Cedar Rapids-based telecommunications company plans to ramp up its Iowa City expansion to 10 times its current pace in 2022.

“The pandemic really made us aware of really the urgency around high-quality bandwidth, and I stress the word quality,” ImOn CEO Patrice Carroll said.

“It’s not just about speed, but it’s being there all the time, and that’s what we do.”

ImOn usually adds about 300 addresses per month to its infrastructure, Carroll said. Tripling the pace means about 900 addresses, and 10 times the pace means 3,000 addresses per month.

The derecho and pandemic also taught ImOn, Carroll said, that it has the capability to expand.

“We could take on something much larger than we ever have before,” Carroll said.

The company also eyes expansions in the Cedar Rapids and Dubuque areas, but Iowa City emerged as a desirable place for “kind of the practice run.”

“To test out new processes and to test out your scalability, a contiguous footprint is the best place to do it,” Carroll said, “and Iowa City has been incredibly welcoming.”

The Internet provider already has partnered with Iowa City to provide free Wi-Fi at two Iowa City parks and the Pedestrian Mall.

ImOn first announced its plans to expand into the Iowa City market in 2015. Mediacom attempted to block the expansion with a lawsuit against the city of Iowa City and ImOn, but the judge ruled against the Blooming Grove, N.Y. company.

The expansion will use ImOn’s fiber network, which Carroll said provides better technology than competitors offer and is not affected by whether neighbors also are using the network.

“At 6 p.m. when everybody gets on the internet, you won’t notice it,” Carroll said. “It’ll be the same because it’s a direct connection to your home, not a shared connection.”

As a longtime Iowa City resident, Carroll has some extra motivation to expand the service.

“I really want my hometown to be a fiber town,” Carroll said.