Smithville opens free community Wi-Fi hotspots in Paoli, French Lick

Smithville now offers 11 free community Wi-Fi hotspots across southern Indiana in Greene, Monroe, Orange, and Sullivan counties.

PAOLI and FRENCH LICK (Indiana) — Helping communities sustain online access – as part of its continuing focus to serve people impacted by the COVID-19 crisis (particularly in rural areas), Ellettsville-based Smithville Communications, Inc. built and opened free Wi-Fi hotspots at the Orange County Community Center (OCCC) in Paoli and at the Town Green public common area in downtown French Lick, Indiana.

Smithville had previously received a request from Paoli Community Schools to provide a free public Wi-Fi link for students. A technical survey of the area showed that the OCCC location and its parking facilities would likely serve as the best location.

“As many reports have shown, internet connectivity became a ‘must-have’ service during the past year of facing COVID-19 challenges,” said Darby A. McCarty, Chairman and CEO of Smithville. “We believe that Smithville has an important commitment to support the communities and people we serve with access to online educational, healthcare and other related resources, and we take it very seriously.”

These new Wi-Fi hotspots in Orange County are in addition to the free Wi-Fi hotspot access that Smithville opened in 2020 at Springs Valley Community School in French Lick. The OCCC hotspot is located at 1075 N. Sandy Hook Road in Paoli, near the IU Health Paoli Hospital and the SICHC Comprehensive Health Care facility. The Town Green Wi-Fi hotspot, which was upgraded and reopened from a prior installation, is located immediately south of the French Lick Springs Hotel.

Public hotspots can be used by individuals that need to connect to networks for work, school, or telehealth reasons.

Smithville upgraded its fiber installation in Paoli to make possible the new OCCC connection and secured a long-term lease with county officials to house the new high-speed equipment.

“Smithville has proven itself to be a responsive and responsible community partner during this time of challenge,” said Kristal Painter, executive director of the Orange County Economic Development Partnership. “We are grateful for their support of our educational, healthcare and community needs for the people living in Orange County.”

In related news, in 2020 Smithville also launched and completed a new residential high-speed fiber connectivity project in the Upper Sandhill rural areas of Orange County, which replaced four-decades-old copper infrastructure with fiber, according to Cullen McCarty, executive vice president of Smithville. That project was completed in late 2020 and upgrades either new fiber or enhanced DSL service for about 100 homes in the rural area.

In addition to the new Paoli and French Lick locations in Orange County, Smithville’s free Wi-Fi hotspots locations include the Monroe County Fairgrounds in Bloomington, Marci Jane Lewis Park in Ellettsville, the fire station in Solsberry (Greene County), the Hymera public library (Sullivan County) and elsewhere. For instructions on how to connect, visit https://www.smithville.com/coronavirus.

Smithville is cautioning users to maintain social distancing and remain in their vehicles when accessing Wi-Fi hotspots. The company is also requesting users to keep these channels open for those in need and refrain from using them for recreational purposes such as gaming or streaming.

“Smithville committed significant resources to ensuring that the communities we serve maintained critical access to online services over the past year,” said Paul Quick, president of Smithville. “By providing free public access to the internet in this continuing time of challenge, our company is offering a safe, reliable connection to those who need it.”

About Smithville

Nationally recognized for more than a decade as a Top 100 Broadband Company, privately owned Smithville is Indiana’s largest independent telecom company with more than 200 employees. As a fifth-generation, family-owned business, Smithville has been committed to delivering fast and reliable connectivity and legendary service to its customers for nearly a century. The company is well-known as an industry leader and community supporter for rural Indiana.

Since the early 1990s, Smithville has constructed more than 2,800 miles of high-speed, high-capacity fiber across more than 17 Indiana counties, representing private investments totaling upward of a quarter of a billion dollars, including the recent completion of a $4.5 million, 100-gigabit fiber ring.

In addition to its residential services, Smithville provides commercial fiber-based connectivity for businesses, university campuses, biotechnology companies, healthcare providers, government offices, residential centers, communities, and other entities, including the WestGate@Crane Technology Park and the Purdue Research Park. The company currently serves about 23,000 businesses and residences in southern and central Indiana. For more information, please visit www.smithville.com.

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