Ellettsville-based Smithville is partnering with the Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC on an effort to increase rural broadband access. The partners say the first initiative of the partnership will break ground in January with the goal of bringing high-speed fiber connectivity to more than 800 homes in rural Monroe County.
Smithville says the two-year project will initially focus on building residential fiber connectivity to about 280 homes. Then, work in additional areas is expected to begin later in 2021 with completion of the full project anticipated to occur by the end of 2022.
“Smithville currently has fiber and legacy service customers in Greene and Monroe Counties and other areas served by UDWI, so combining strategic resources in a limited partnership will bring benefits to present and future customers and communities served by both,” Darby McCarty, chief executive officer of Smithville, said in a news release. “Many of these areas have high construction costs, so this partnership will help lower costs and accelerate fiber access without impacting either of our customer bases.”
Doug Childs, CEO of the UDWI, says the partnership will allow the co-op to continue its focus on capital improvements and increased vegetation management to improve service reliability to customers.
Smithville says its engineering teams are completing plans for the Monroe County project. Both Smithville and the UDWI say they are considering additional efforts as well.
“This initial project will serve as the foundation for additional projects in the future,” said Cullen McCarty, executive vice president of Smithville. “The Monroe County project is just the beginning.”