SHELBY COUNTY - Officials in Shelby County are hoping a new agreement will boost the availability of high-speed fiber optic Internet service. The Shelby County Fiber Optic Board has signed a deal with Greenfield-based NineStar Connect to expand fiber access throughout the county.

The board, which owns existing fiber optic cable in the county, says there are currently eight strands of fiber that run through downtown Shelbyville and extend along I-74 to Indianapolis. None of the existing fiber is available to homes in Shelby County.

The 20-year agreement with NineStar, which manages fiber in Morristown, will allow the provider to first expand into areas with high potential for business growth and eventually expand into residential areas. Rob Nolley, president of the SCFOB, says the board may consider helping to cover the costs of expanding fiber access into certain areas with high potential for economic development.

"This will help attract businesses that need a solid, high-speed fiber connection," said Nolley. "For the home, it is important because it will help us attract new citizens who like the idea of having high-speed fiber without data limitations."

As part of the agreement, NineStar will be able to sell services on the fiber and will help market the fiber and economic development. The SCFOB will receive 2.5 percent in royalties on all NineStar services.

Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun says creating greater access to high-speed connectivity could enhance livability for residents considering living in the city's downtown. He adds coworking spaces will also benefit from fiber access.