2015 Top Ops Awards
INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
Free WiFi for
Downtown Cedar Rapids
As the recipient of this Independent Community Service
Award, ImOn gets our nod for bringing free WiFi to downtown Cedar
Rapids, Iowa, last year.
Yet only part of a larger story about service to its community. The much larger, in fact.
out the WiFi piece Announced last October, the
system is a commercial-grade, state-of-the-art network utilizing
access points throughout downtown that are connected to
high-speed, 10-gigabit network. ImOn assumed 100 percent
of the equipment and maintenance costs. It worked closely with
the City of Cedar Rapids to get access to hang WiFi equipment on
City utility poles and streetlights, which power the system.
And everyone, even those who get their residential data service from ImOn, can access the WiFi-network for up to hours daily.
Initially the WiFi network covered one square mile downtown.
Importantly, it also covered two symbols of Cedar resurrection after the devastating 2008 NewBo City Market, an
18,000-square-foot retail space featuring fresh food and crafts;
and the McGrath City Amphitheater, an outdoor concert venue on
the west bank of the Cedar River. Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff
Pomeranz says, appreciate contribution to make this
this service is a big step toward our goal to make Cedar
Rapids a connected
Importantly, the free WiFi network is growing. Visit any park in Cedar
Rapids or neighboring Hiawatha or Marion and you can access it.
want to keep to other public spaces and venues, says Jeff
Janssen, VP, Sales and Marketing. want people to be able
to move around downtown and have access be
Indeed, everything about this project seems relatively big except for
ImOn, a modest-sized company. At just eight years old, the privately
provides fiber to the home with speeds up to
110Mb, one reason why been named Cedar Rapids
and Iowa Best ISP by Corridor Business Journal for
Cedar Rapids is 2nd largest city, home to 130K people.
held which competes with Mediacom, closely guards its
customer and employee totals. We manage to pry loose an approximation of its head count when we dig into culture, which we
learn is local. local companies support their says ACA EVP and Chief of Staff Rob Shema. ImOn does
is We have to investigate.
Janssen tells us ImOn supports more than 70 charities, causes
and with cash donations and/or in-kind services, such
as free advertising. It also encourages employees to volunteer by
giving them paid time off. heard ImOn supports about as many
charitable causes as it has employees. We ask Janssen to
a fair he tells us.
As if all that enough, one day each month ImOn takes its entire
truck to deliver Meals on Wheels.
Still, another part of the story. the person who
got [ImOn] off the ground in according to
president/CEO Patrice Carroll, whose extensive telecom
background includes senior positions at MCI Worldcom. More pertinent to this story is commitment to doing good, serving on
the boards of Jr Achievement, United Way and Theater Cedar Rapids,
among many others. From the beginning, Janssen says, Carroll has
insisted a company that not only says local, but acts
Donating a WiFi network to the community and growing it. In our
book, acting local.
Cablefax: The Magazine