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Cable guys jump gun, get fined

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Crews from cable and internet provider RCN started installing wires on utility poles in south Evanston late last week. But they didn't have permits from the city, so the company's now facing fines.

Deputy City Manager Erika Storlie says RCN has been issued a franchise to wire Evanston by the state and had been in the process for a few months of having their construction plans reviewed by the city for approval to use city rights of way.

"But there apparently was a miscommunication between their attorney and their management," Storlie says, that led to the premature start of work.

The arrival of RCN as a competitor to Comcast and AT&T for internet and cable service in Evanston may creative more competitive pricing options for local residents.

RCN is touting one gigabit internet service for $69.99 a month across the border in Chicago where it already operates. Comcast's listed price for the same ultra-high speed service in Evanston is $139.95.

Storlie says RCN now has resubmitted plans to the city and city officials hope to have comments back to them by the end of day today.

"But we don't have complete information yet, so it's still a work in progress," Storlie added. "I thing realistically they may be able to be up and working perhaps by the end of the month."

Since the majority of work needed is aerial, on utility poles, rather than underground, Storlie said she didn't think the delay would halt work over the winter.

She said RCN has indicated it plans to take about two years to wire all of Evanston, starting from the south end of the city and moving north, with the rollout of service to residents phased as different parts of town are completed.

Storlie says another internet and cable provider. Wowway, which operates in some Chicago suburbs, had approached city officials about wiring Evanston last spring, but those plans, she said, never got further than just talk.

She says RCN will be issued violation notices of $500 per day for each of the two sites that they were working at for two days last week.

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