Fiber optic cable. (image courtesy: Pexels/Brett Sayles)

Paris-based infrastructure company Meridiam is planning to invest more than $50 million to bring high-speed internet access to every resident in the city of Bloomington. The city says Meridiam will build and operate an open-access-model fiber network that will provide net neutrality and digital equity opportunities.

The city says it will invest $1 million to support the project’s digital equity component, which includes a digital equity program for low-income households. The initiative aims to provide qualifying households with 250 megabits per second internet service for $30 per month.

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton says the project will advance the community as a whole.

“Equitable and ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband is fundamental for all Bloomingtonians,” said Hamilton. “All of our students need access to e-learning from home. Today’s workers need reliable digital connections to thrive. How many home-bound seniors need high-speed internet for better health care? How many working parents need affordable access to get a high school diploma or a new skill from home to raise their earnings? It will help Bloomington “Recover Forward” from the pandemic and recession into a brighter more inclusive future.”

The high-speed fiber network is expected to reach at least 85% of Bloomington residences.

“Meridiam is excited to partner with the City of Bloomington to provide its residents with next-generation, fiber-based internet services and deliver equitable access to this essential 21st-century technology,” said Nicolas Rubio, chief executive officer of Meridiam Americas. “As a mission-driven company dedicated to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we believe that investing in better, faster connectivity fuels competition and fosters economic, educational, and entrepreneurial opportunities for all.”

Meridiam is seeking a Tax Increment Finance district to support the project, and the city says Meridiam plans to begin construction after the TIF district is in place later this year.

Meridiam is expected to announce additional investments in other southern Indiana cities over the next several weeks.