More details will be released as Bartholomew County gets closer to having broadband internet available countywide for the first time.
The first rural neighborhood to have fiber-optic cable available for high-speed service will be just north of the Columbus Municipal Airport, said Dave Brodin, CEO of Hoosier Fiber Networks. He has set out to have 100 homes in this neighborhood registered by the end of this month.
Brodin’s company is building the infrastructure needed to eventually roll out the fiber-optic cable throughout the county. Another company, GigabitNow, will serve as the Internet provider of Hoosier Fiber Networks.
An online map on a GigabitNow website indicates that infrastructure outside Columbus will be completed initially west of County Road 350E, south of County Road 600N, north of County Road 400N, and east of US 31. Brodin said he was optimistic about the ‘Fiber-optic cable installation to be completed in 100 homes in this area by the end of this month.
At that point, there’s usually a 30-day acceptance process where the company inspects the system and makes sure everything is working properly, Brodin said.
“That puts the first houses ready for service around the end of October or beginning of November,” he said.
About 10,000 rural residents will be eligible to receive high-speed Internet at various times over the next year, with the entire rural project completed by the end of July 2025, Brodin said.
Once completed, the infrastructure is expected to last 20 to 25 years before upgrades may be needed, said Bartholomew County Commissioner Tony London.
Some areas, especially in Columbus, already have a choice of Internet service providers. However, the Bartholomew County government is investing $4 million from the US federal bailout endowment to make broadband Internet available throughout the county. London says the aim is to make high-speed internet available to isolated rural homes where the service is considered economically difficult due to the high cost of fiber optic cable.
It was only after evaluating the performance propositions and bids that Hoosier Fiber Networks and GigabitNow were selected by county officials. The only other bidder was AT&T.
After the analysis, a consultant said Hoosier Fiber Networks would reach 3,993 more rural homes than its competitor. In terms of land coverage, Hoosier Fiber Networks would provide fiber to 65,489 rural acres, compared to the 17,088 acres offered by AT&T.
Hoosier Fiber Networks is the network service provider for investment firm Meridiam Infrastructure North America Corp. Meridiam is investing approximately $33 million in the infrastructure needed for high-speed Internet locally.
The city of Columbus has a similar deal with Hoosier Fiber Networks, but Jake Freshour, who is the local GigabitNow coordinator, said both the city and county’s infrastructure is building at the same time.
“The only challenge is that if you have a half-mile driveway, you may need to help financially with the installation,” London said. “But a residence 500 feet from the main line? No additional cost.”
Freshour says his company’s basic package starts at 350 megabits per second for $49.95 a month. But lower prices or free services have been called for for economically disadvantaged families who meet income guidelines, London said.
GigabitNow wants to establish a local presence in Bartholomew County. Right now, they’re looking for suitable office space in the vicinity of downtown Columbus, Freshour said. The company has a policy of being involved in the communities it serves and is already planning to sponsor specific events, she said.
To find out when GigabitNow will be available in different parts of the county, go online to Gigabitnow.com/bartholomewcounty.
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