South central Indiana project attracts national industry attention.
ELLETTSVILLE and MARTINSVILLE – 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.”
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.
About SCI REMC
South Central Indiana Rural Electric Membership Corporation (SCI REMC) was established in 1939 and is the largest rural electric cooperative in Indiana. Electric cooperatives were organized by people living in rural areas who banded together to supply electricity to their own homes. We are a non-profit, owned and operated by the 28,200 members we serve, across seven counties.
SCI Fiber was launched in 2018 and offers residential and commercial telecommunication services. SCI Fiber has over 5,000 residential subscribers with 1,100 miles of mainline and distribution fiber in place. The project is expected to be completed by 2023 and will ensure SCI REMC’s members have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. Installing fiber throughout the service territory will help modernize our electric grid to improve electric reliability and meet members’ growing desires to save energy through load control and other functions that require smart infrastructure.
SCI REMC is a leader among other co-ops in its technological advancements, energy efficiency as well as its community involvement. SCI REMC hosts several community programs, including Operation RoundUp, where our members round up their electric bill payments to the nearest dollar. Through this program, our members have distributed more than $3.2 million in grants for area charitable organizations and civic groups. In addition, SCI REMC sponsors various community events and energy programs for area youths. For more information, please visit www.sciremc.com