U.S. Senator Mike Braun, Smithville executives review critical rural broadband industry challenges
Senator travels to Smithville technology facility to gain firsthand information about broadband industry issues, Smithville private investments and possible solutions
ELLETTSVILLE, Indiana (November 15, 2019) – To gain firsthand knowledge about critical issues facing American and Indiana broadband development, U.S. Senator Mike Braun (R, IN) traveled to Smithville’s Ellettsville technology facility to share perspectives with company executives about the telecommunications industry. The discussion focused on the Rural Broadband Network Advancement Act of 2019 (HR 2929), an industry-led bill designed to create a pathway for sustainable funding of broadband infrastructure. If enacted, this bill will require edge providers (like Netflix, Hulu, Google and Amazon) to support last-mile transport via a network user fee.
Smithville Executive Vice President Cullen McCarty, who joined the Senator in the meetings, commented that: “the bill has been gaining traction with members of Congress who recognize that a sustainable funding stream will be required to build out networks in rural areas of the country.”
Smithville executives expressed to the Senator the fact that as demand for bandwidth continues to soar, this demand pressures smaller rural carriers like Smithville to expand their networks to accommodate traffic generated by edge providers. The edge providers like Amazon offer services to Smithville shared customers, but they don’t contribute to the cost of the critical infrastructure.
“Our broadband user data shows that 50-60 percent of our current network traffic is generated by edge providers, and it has been steadily increasing with the consumer demand for video,” McCarty explained. “The plain fact is that these companies benefit financially from our investments while contributing nothing to support the networks that transport their data.” If enacted, “this Act will help level the playing field,” McCarty noted.
During his tour of Smithville facilities, Senator Braun took part in a demonstration about how tiny fiber strands are spliced together to create a durable and long-lasting platform for high-speed and high-capacity data transmission. “We at Smithville are grateful to the Senator and his staff to take time from their busy schedule to come to our facility and see the impact Smithville has on leading Indiana forward with the latest technology and continued commitment to an industry-leading standard of service,” said Darby McCarty, Smithville Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Smithville continues to build fiber to customers in rural areas across the region, with local build projects upgrading copper infrastructure to fiber for more than 750 local Ellettsville residents, with additional projects scheduled for 2020. “While Smithville is relatively small, its impact and leadership is much greater than one might expect, especially given that Smithville has made upwards of a quarter of a billion dollars in private investment for broadband and technology development,” explained Smithville President Paul Quick.
“Based on our substantial investments, Smithville’s vision going forward reflects a renewed commitment to advancing fast and reliable high-speed broadband and related product offerings in our service areas,” Quick noted.
He added: “We create value by providing legendary service, embracing innovation, and creating partnerships that can transform communities. This is reflected in both Smithville’s national recognition as a Top 100 broadband company and Darby McCarty’s recent recognition as a ‘National Broadband Hero’ by the USTelecom Association.”
Senator Braun voiced his appreciation of the industry and companies such as Smithville that continue to make a difference for Hoosiers and rural residents across the country. “I am personally grateful for dedicated Hoosiers like Darby McCarty, who together with the great people who make up Smithville and private Indiana companies like it, continue to provide our state with nationally recognized service and industry leadership,” the Senator said.
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 22 Indiana counties, representing private investments totaling upward of a quarter of a billion dollars, including 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