The first phase of a major fiber project in Indiana is complete. Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) says it has installed more than 77 miles of fiber optic cable that runs along I-70 from the Indiana-Ohio border to downtown Indianapolis. The social media company says the project was implemented to connect its data centers in Iowa and Nebraska to those on the East Coast, however it will also create opportunities for partners to expand internet broadband access to Hoosiers, particularly in rural areas.
Michelle Kohler, Business Development Manager-Network Investment with Facebook, tells Inside INdiana Business building the fiber network along the interstate is unique.
“I think we’re probably the first organization to build on an interstate (in Indiana),” said Kohler. “The analogy that I like to use is we’re building the highway. It’s in digital format, but if you imagine we’re building that highway that’s going to cross Indiana and others will build the off ramps to actually get to the businesses and to the end users. So, we’re solving problems with telemedicine and remote connections for people that are working online or doing school online.”
Facebook says local and regional providers will have the opportunity to purchase excess capacity on the new fiber lines, which could be used to provide more broadband internet access to nearby rural areas.
Kohler says the company wants to create economic and quality of life benefits for Hoosiers.
“It’s really making sure that, after we’ve built it and we’ve put this infrastructure in place, that we are giving the right tools to our partners to make sure that the experience for the end user ends up being a super positive one; nobody wants a bad service connection, especially in today’s world where we’re so reliant upon it,” said Kohler.
Dave Roberts, chief innovation officer for the Indiana Economic Development Corp. says increasing digital infrastructure positions the state for future growth.
“In 2020, business here and around the world committed to creating over 3,700 high-paying tech jobs in Indiana over the next several years. We’re building on our reputation as a growing tech hub and bold initiatives like this one are helping propel us forward even faster,” said Roberts. “What Facebook is doing in Indiana today is helping set the infrastructure we need for the jobs and innovation of tomorrow.”
The second phase of the project will add 85 miles of fiber from downtown Indy to the Indiana-Illinois border along U.S. 40. Facebook says the second phase is underway in partnership with Zayo Communications and the goal is to have the entire project complete by the end of the year.
Kohler says building the fiber network on the interstate is unique.