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President Barack Obama Hails Cedar Falls as US Leading Broadband City

Last week, President Barack Obama visited the Cedar Valley to highlight the City of Cedar Falls and Cedar Falls Utilities(CFU) as a leader in providing broadband service to the community.  The national and international media coverage of the President has shown a spotlight on the Cedar Falls and the Cedar Valley.  The Alliance & Chamber congratulates the city and CFU for this pioneering work. We also recognize the efforts of other providers to bring high speed service to the entire Cedar Valley. Read the recent blog post by CFU General Manager Jim Krieg.

President Barack Obama’s visit last week was a proud and memorable day for Cedar Falls, and most certainly for CFU. It was an honor to extend Cedar Falls’ hospitality to our President, and to be held up as an example of community broadband success.

Because of the President’s visit, people from all over the place are asking about the secret sauce. What is it that makes community broadband successful in Cedar Falls?

The answer is in the name: community. In 1994, no provider offered high speed internet service in Cedar Falls, and the phone and cable companies then serving the town had no plans to upgrade their networks any time soon. Unwilling to wait, citizens led the charge to pass a referendum that founded our community broadband service and tasked CFU with designing, building and running it.

It was a bold move and not without risk. On Wednesday the President called it visionary and ahead of its time. The referendum ballot included a $3 million bond to fund construction costs. That bond was repaid over time as our business grew.

In fact, the business boomed. The same people who voted to form CFU’s Communications Utility made it a smashing success by signing up as customers. Because of that, community broadband in Cedar Falls is fully self-supporting as a fee-for-service business.

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On October 15, Cedar Falls was named the 2014 eCity of Iowa.  The eCity Awards recognize the strongest online business community in each state – the digital capitals of America. These cities’ businesses are embracing the web to find new customers, connect with existing clients and fuel their local economies. Cedar Falls joins the ranks of America’s leading cities in the digital economy.  Google  recognized the city’s innovative businesses by holding a community celebration with Sen. Chuck Grassley, Mayor Jon Crews and other community representatives on Wednesday, on Main St. in Cedar Falls.

Senator Grassley presented the award to Mayor Crews, who credited the citizens of Cedar Falls for passing the community broadband referendum 20 years ago this month, and credited CFU will building and continuously updating the community’s broadband infrastructure.

Local partners include:

  • City of Cedar Falls
  • Cedar Falls Utilities
  • Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
  • Business and Community Services at UNI
  • Small Business Development Center at UNI





“CFU now offers  1-Gig service to every home and every business in the city making Cedar Falls Iowa’s first  ‘Gigabit City.’ There are fewer than 50, 1-Gig cities in the nation. Of those that claim 1-Gig service, most only deliver it to a small area of the city or a certain class of customer. CFU offers true, city wide, 1-Gig to everyone.

The Cedar Valley is well on its way to becoming Gigabit Valley! With CFU’s product in place, undoubtedly 1-Gig will soon be offered by providers in Waterloo and other Cedar Valley cities. The Cedar Valley is the place for tech led industry, business and services to grow bigger and stronger. We have the fiber to prove it!”  – Steve Dust, CEO Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber.

More information can be found at www.CFU.net

The following is CFU’s May 28th announcement

CFU launches state’s fastest internet service


CEDAR FALLS, IA Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) launches internet service at 1 gigabit per second (GBPS) today, making Cedar Falls the first and only Iowa community on the nation’s short list of gigabit cities.

CFU’s gigabit service is available now at any Cedar Falls business or home. The service is delivered through CFU’s city-wide fiber optic network, completed earlier this year. About 400 rural Cedar Falls properties also have access to the service.

“We can turn up a customer’s gigabit service on the same day they ask for it, if not the same hour,” said CFU General Manager Jim Krieg. “The facilities are already in place, so we can activate the service remotely from our network operations center.”

Cedar Falls Community Services Manager Robert Seymour says the “gigabit city” label will put Cedar Falls on the map for a broader list of business prospects.

“This is a great tool for promoting Cedar Falls as a place to locate or expand a business,” says Seymour. “It’s an important part of the complete infrastructure package we bring to the table, and it means we can compete with the best broadband communities anywhere in the country.”


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CFU’s high-speed internet service dates back to 1996, years before similar service became available in most of Iowa. “Back then, a 10 megabit connection easily met the needs of a high-demand business user,” Krieg recalls. “The service we’re launching today is 100 times as fast.”

“One of the biggest changes we’ve seen is the transformation of broadband access from an innovation back in the ‘90s, to a convenience that people want, to an essential service for businesses and families,” Krieg said. “Today customers are looking for more than speed. They demand the highest reliability for their broadband connections, just as they do for electric or water or gas service.”

To meet that need, CFU designed its city-wide network and external internet connections with diverse fiber paths and back-up capacity. “Our network is set up to maintain service to customers even when something breaks,” says Network Manager Rob Houlihan. “Say there’s a fiber cut between here and Chicago that takes one of our upstream providers out of service. Our other transport paths and bandwidth sources handle the traffic, without disruption for the customers.”

Krieg notes that CFU serves more than 600 businesses and 11,000 home internet customers today, and most will not immediately upgrade to gigabit service. “With this launch, we’re upgrading our top business tier customers from 200 MBPS to gigabit service at the same price,” he said.

Bandwidth demand from CFU’s internet customers has grown rapidly, and more than doubled in 2012. “Experience shows that when we deliver more bandwidth, customers find innovative ways to use it,” Krieg says. “We expect demand for gigabit service to start small, but grow fast.”

CFU continues to offer a range of home and business internet plans, starting at $30/month. Speeds and pricing for all of CFU’s broadband services are online at www.cfu.net/internet.


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Cedar Falls Utilities provides broadband communications, electricity, water and natural gas services to homes and businesses in Cedar Falls, Iowa, population 39,000. The Utilities are owned by the City of Cedar Falls and operated for public benefit under the governance of a citizen Board of Trustees. The Municipal Communications Utility was formed in 1994 by a citizen referendum, and launched internet and television services in January, 1996.


Media resources: Visit CFU’s online newsroom for video news release, broadcast quality video clips, still images, logos and sidebar copy.

About CFU

Cedar Falls Utilities provides internet, electricity, water, natural gas and cable television services to homes and businesses in Cedar Falls, Iowa, population 39,000. Electric and broadband services are also provided to an 85-square-mile area of rural Cedar Falls. The rural service area is located mostly in Black Hawk County, Iowa, with limited overlap to adjacent Grundy and Butler Counties.

Internet and video services are provided through the Municipal Communications Utility, founded by citizen referendum in 1994. In 1996 the Utility was among nation’s first providers of high speed internet service. In 2013, CFU completed a three-year network upgrade, bringing a fiber optic connection to every Cedar Falls home and business.

CFU’s combination of reliable and economical broadband, electricity, natural gas and water services gives growing and relocating companies a single source for essential services that are immediately available and ready for business.

CFU’s business units are the Cedar Falls Municipal Communications, Electric, Gas and Water Utilities. All four entities are owned by the City of Cedar Falls and operated for public benefit under the governance of a citizen Board of Trustees

Be part of something greater - The Cedar Valley of Iowa

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees