Construction has begun on the first joint fiber project through a partnership between Ellettsville-based Smithville and the Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC. The co-op says plans call for 280 homes in the joint service area east of Stanford to receive access to Smithville high-speed fiber service.

Smithville says the project’s first phase will involve about 800 homes in rural Monroe County near Stanford. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

“Given Smithville’s current customer base in shared areas served by UDWI in Greene and Monroe counties, this partnership is expected to benefit communities and customers served by both organizations,” said Darby McCarty, chairman and chief executive officer of Smithville. “We expect that this partnership will help accelerate fiber access without raising costs to our mutual base of customers.”

The company says construction is expected to begin on additional areas later this year.

“This joint project gives both companies the opportunity to reach customers more quickly with high-speed fiber service that otherwise might be delayed,” said Smithville President Paul Quick. “The past year has fully demonstrated the need for high-speed and high-capacity connectivity and innovative cooperation will help bring a welcome solution to hard-to-reach rural areas.”

Smithville is funding the project through private investments made by the company, which is expected to include use of UDWI aerial and other assets. The company says no rate increases will be required to fund the project by either Smithville or UDWI.

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