Today a nationally recognized Top 100 Broadband Company, Smithville is celebrating its 100th year in business in 2022. “We have come a long way from the days when Indiana quarries who were cutting limestone for the Empire State Building and Washington, D.C. federal offices required then-state-of-the art telephone connectivity,” said Darby A. McCarty, Smithville chairman and CEO. “Today we have gone from connecting quarries to connecting $100 million technology parks, large hospitals, government facilities, manufacturing plants, and more, including many small businesses who need fast and reliable broadband.”
“State Champion” for rural broadband
“Smithville for many years has been a state champion for rural-based fiber broadband, serving Hoosier residents and businesses alike across Indiana,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “Smithville’s history is a history of innovation, and we look forward to further achievements and service in the years to come.”
Initially begun as a rural telephone exchange, family-owned Smithville expanded over the years to become the first commercial telecommunications company to offer innovative fiber-based connectivity to schools and commercial companies.
“Long-time effective advocate and innovator”
“Smithville has served as both a long-time effective advocate and innovator for the telecommunications industry,” said Neil Krevda, President of the Indiana Broadband and Technology Association (IBTA). “A family-owned Hoosier enterprise, Smithville is Indiana’s largest privately held telecommunications company and we are fortunate that family members – including current Smithville Chairman and CEO Darby McCarty – have served on the IBTA board and in leadership positions for many years.” Following in the footsteps of her grandfather William H. Earles, Ms. McCarty received the IBTA Distinguished Service Award for outstanding achievements in 2014.
As the Indianapolis Star reported in July 1993, Smithville was the first to create a fiber network to serve K-12 schools in rural areas. The headline for the article read, “Fiber Optic links schools, vastly increases their capability.”
Originally using copper-based connectivity, Smithville over the decades invested more than a quarter of a billion dollars to convert its network to fiber. That process continues, with the company constantly upgrading its network. The company has constructed more than 2,800 miles of fiber-optics in Indiana, many in rough, rocky terrain that costs more than $60,000 a mile to construct.
“We are fortunate as a company to have a dedicated team of first-class employees who go above and beyond serving our customers,” said Ms. McCarty. “During the pandemic, when Smithville connectivity services reached record demand, our employees rose to the occasion with outstanding work delivered safely and on-time.”
Free Wi-Fi during Covid-19 Crisis
An engaged company in the communications it serves, Smithville opened several free public Wi-Fi facilities across its service areas during the pandemic. “That provided students and residents with a critical capacity during the time when facilities were closed,” explained Cullen McCarty.
In the 21st century, Smithville invested more than $10 million to build state-of-the-art 100-gigabit fiber-based core networks in Jasper, Ellettsville and the WestGate@Crane Technology Park. Such core networks typically are found only in major urban areas, according to Cullen McCarty, Smithville executive vice president and a 5th generation owner of the privately held company.
Smithville recently completed its complete $15 million overbuild of the city of Jasper with fiber, providing the entire city – residents and businesses alike – with access to full symmetrical gigabit service (1,000 Mbps).
Based on its innovative expansion of fiber service in the residential and commercial sectors, Smithville has set an unprecedented Indiana record of being named a national Top 100 Broadband company 13 consecutive times. Sean Buckley, the editor-in-chief of Broadband Communities magazine, has lauded Smithville for its forward-looking commitment to state-of-the-art fiber expansion.
Critical risk-taker foe economic development
Smithville has often served as a critical risk-taker and enabler for economic development expansion, including the WestGate@Crane Technology Park next to the $2 billion Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division.
As Purdue and southern Indiana officials tell the story: Smithville initially invested a quarter of million dollars in 2004 to provide “last mile” fiber connectivity to WestGate@Crane Technology Park, which was a requirement for tenants to move into the first facilities.
“Smithville was a ‘lifesaver’ in those days, and we were and remain very appreciative of their willingness to make a high-risk commitment to punch in fiber in what was then essentially bean and corn fields,” said Ron Arnold, then-executive director of the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation, and today a Daviess County Commissioner.
In 2021, Smithville attracted national and state attention for its unique and innovative partnerships with local REMCs SCI-REMC and UDWI in southern Indiana to accelerate fiber expansion and service.
Company executives Darby and Cullen McCarty have tirelessly advocated for rural fiber support and accelerated expansion through Congressional officials and national and state telecom associations. “Rural fiber expansion remains a critical necessity, as was made evident in the recent COVID-19 crisis,” said Cullen McCarty. Darby McCarty has served in executive positions and on the boards of various national and state technology associations and chambers of commerce.
In addition to providing internet connectivity, various television service products, and digital telephone service, Smithville also provides a full line of home and business security products. The company was named best security service provider in Bloomington for two years in a row.
Smithville received national recognition from Resideo in December 2021 for its continuing community service to residents and for the national innovative installation of Smart Home Security products in 2021.
As Chris Dobson, Security Product Manager, explained: “The Community Service Award acknowledges our commitment to the communities we serve and our initiatives like the school supply drive, Touch a Truck events, and the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.” The Smithville Engaged Team organizes community events such as the Teachers Warehouse School Supply Drive and others.
Smithville regularly sponsors a variety of community and civic activities, including educational, health, equity, the performing arts and more. It’s long-term sponsorship of Indiana University Athletics is well-known both statewide and nationally.
“National and local recognition like this underscores and validates Smithville’s continuing commitment to excellence in customer service,” said Paul Quick, Smithville’s President. “We applaud all of our teams and employees, including our outstanding teams in customer service, marketing, installation technicians and technical support for all working together to achieve this level of recognized excellence.”
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