ELLETTSVILLE and BLOOMFIELD (Indiana) – Construction began January 27 for the first joint fiber project under a partnership with Smithville, Indiana’s largest privately-held telecom, and the Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI), according to Darby A. McCarty, Chairman and CEO of Smithville, and Doug Childs, UDWI CEO. Plans call for 280 homes in the joint Smithville/UDWI service area east of Stanford to receive access to Smithville high-speed fiber service, which is nationally recognized.
The first phase begins a construction process that will eventually include about 800 homes in the rural area east of Stanford in Monroe County. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
Additional areas of the project are expected to start construction later in 2021. Smithville is funding construction through private investments made by the company, which will include use of UDWI aerial and other assets. No rate increases will be required to fund this project by either Smithville or UDWI. .
“Given Smithville’s current customer base in shared areas served by UDWI in Greene and Monroe counties, this partnership is expected to benefit communities and customers served by both organizations,” said Ms. McCarty. “We expect that this partnership will help accelerate fiber access without raising costs to our mutual base of customers.”
Childs noted, “We’re excited about this first project, as it uses an innovative approach to positively leverage the current and future assets of both organizations while offering additional benefits to our members in shared areas.”
“Even as this first joint project proceeds, UDWI will continue its set plans to improve service reliability through both capital improvements and increased vegetation management without interruption,” said Childs. “It’s a win-win for all.”
Smithville’s engineering teams have completed plans for the initial Monroe County project area, which will include using some aerial infrastructure assets owned by UDWI. Joint planning for the remainder of the project is now underway. The planning process will continue within the two-year timeframe as new construction areas are added within the first Monroe County project.
“We expect that this initial project will allow us to expand our partnership as we consider additional projects,” said Cullen McCarty, executive vice president of Smithville. Future joint projects will be identified based on Smithville’s planned fiber expansion areas and aligned with UDWI’s capital improvement plan, he added.
Smithville and UDWI already both provide service in areas near the $100 million WestGate@Crane Technology Park and other portions of south-central Indiana, where additional joint projects may also materialize. However, the companies will complete their first joint project before actively pursuing additional opportunities, McCarty explained.
“This joint project gives both companies the opportunity to reach customers more quickly with high-speed fiber service that otherwise might be delayed,” said Smithville President Paul Quick. “The past year has fully demonstrated the need for high-speed and high-capacity connectivity and innovative cooperation will help bring a welcome solution to hard-to-reach rural areas.”
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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 Utilities District of Western Indiana (UDWI) REMC
Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC is a non-profit organization engaged principally in the distribution and sale of electricity in Greene and parts of Clay, Daviess, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Owen, Putnam, Knox, Sullivan, and Vigo counties in Indiana. The mission for UDWI: To provide its members with electricity and quality, efficient service, while maintaining a financially healthy and rate competitive position in the industry through teamwork, mutual respect, and an on-going commitment to our members. For more information, please visit https://www.udwiremc.com/