Smithville, SCI REMC activate first high-speed customers in unique fiber project for 3,400 residents and businesses
A joint high-speed project that has attracted national industry attention took its first steps toward providing fiber service for up to 3,40o residents in Monroe and Owen Counties on April 12. The first high-speed customers for both companies came online as part of a unique fiber project directed by Smithville Communications, a top 100 national broadband company, and SCI REMC, Indiana’s largest rural electric cooperative.
“It is always good news when we can announce the availability of high-speed fiber in a rural area of Indiana, but this milestone is great news in that it represents the first fiber service jointly developed by a unique partnership between Smithville and SCI REMC,” said Cullen McCarty, Executive Vice President of Smithville Communications. “Since both organizations serve customers in essentially the same geographic area, this represents an excellent opportunity to work together to accelerate fiber availability to the customers we jointly serve.”
“Smithville and SCI REMC are setting a new bar of high standards for remarkable innovation in providing critical fiber service to Hoosiers in rural areas of Indiana,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who oversees Indiana’s Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program and the state Office of Broadband Opportunities. “Governor Eric Holcomb and I applaud both companies for finding a way to jointly accelerate the construction of fiber services in regions where high-speed internet is often not readily available.”
According to James Tanneberger, president and CEO of SCI REMC, when the new fiber network is built and active, residential and business customers will be able to choose service from either Smithville or SCI REMC. As noted, both companies will independently market services to customers within the project area.
“This unique partnership benefits all parties,” said Tanneberger. “By working with Smithville, SCI REMC can ensure that businesses and residents in our joint service areas can have access to world-class high-speed internet in the most expeditious, fiscally responsible way possible, and at the same time meet our electric smart grid needs.”
Smithville and SCI REMC began physical construction last May in the first phase of bringing fiber service to 350 residents and businesses located in a rural area between Spencer and Gosport.
When completed in 2023, the project will serve approximately 3,400 residents and businesses in the shared service areas around Ellettsville, Lake Monroe, and Gosport with high-speed, reliable fiber-based internet. These include homes presently served by copper-based service, which the new fiber will replace.
“This joint project helps close the rural digital divide by providing high-speed, highly reliable fiber-based internet connectivity,” said Darby A. McCarty, Chairman and CEO of Smithville.
“Smithville has been an SCI REMC member for many years, and we also currently provide connectivity to their offices,” Ms. McCarty added. “It represents a natural partnership, as we share a similar, community-minded approach to serving our customers.”
The partnership leverages Smithville’s expertise and SCI REMC’s physical infrastructure to build the network and meet the needs of members, according to Tanneberger. “With the high cost of constructing new fiber networks, building separate physical fiber networks represents an expensive option that blocks progress,” he said.
“This unique partnership allows for faster delivery of service to members in common areas where we already jointly serve,” added Cullen McCarty.
Tanneberger noted that SCI REMC plans to continue building its own fiber network beyond the shared service area where members currently don’t have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.
“When technology companies and organizations can find innovative ways to effectively work together, everybody wins,” said Paul Quick, president of Smithville. “We look forward to continuing to explore and secure new ways to serve the people of Indiana with great high-speed fiber service.”
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