Lease Deal Could Net State $260M

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INDIANAPOLIS -

Governor Mike Pence has announced an agreement to lease the state's communications infrastructure to Ohio-based Agile Networks. The deal, which could bring in more than $260 million, will boost rural and agricultural broadband services and fund the state's bicentennial projects, according to the governor's office. The agreement must still be reviewed by the Indiana legislative budget committee.

Under the initial 25-year agreement, Agile Networks would make an initial upfront payment of $50 million to manage, operate and market Indiana's communications infrastructure, which includes all existing cell towers, and pay the state an additional $36 million in expected revenue over the course of the deal. The company will have an option to renew the agreement for another 25 years, at which point it will make an additional upfront payment of $10 million, plus an additional $164 million in expected revenue over the renewal term.

"This expansion will enhance broadband service as Agile Networks’ open access model will give wireless carriers and providers the ability to easily enter new urban and rural markets," said Micah Vincent, director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget. "The impact of significantly increasing broadband availability in underserved areas will facilitate economic development, increase educational learning and telemedicine opportunities, increase growth for rural businesses, advance agricultural technologies, and provide reliable broadband for residents."

The agreement was approved by the Indiana Finance Authority board Monday morning. Pence says the deal will "put underused assets into full play."

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