INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis-based Intelligent Fiber Network has raised nearly $13 million in equity investment funding. The commercial fiber broadband provider says the funding came from several of its member-owners, as well as one new owner: Wabash Valley Power Association. IFN says the capital raised will allow it to expand and deepen its high-speed fiber network and invest in critical network upgrades that will ensure the ability to scale up for the future.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, IFN Chief Executive Officer Jim Turner said the investment is the biggest step the company has made to address the rural broadband issue in Indiana.

"That is partnering with a rural power company and its 23 member-owners," said Turner. "Wabash Valley Power is owned by 23 member distribution electric co-ops and all of these co-ops at some level are beginning to look at the possibility of fiber deployment in their particular areas. Connecting with IFN really helps bring that desire closer to reality in many of these communities that don't have fiber today."

Turner says the decision to seek a new funding round came after discussions with the IFN Board of Directors and member-owners.

"We made the decision that we want to continue significantly growing the business and in our business, growth means capital," said Turner. "It's a very capital-intensive industry to install fiber optic communications and so we realized to pursue the growth that we want, we're going to need to raise additional capital and so we went to our member-owners and we went to a targeted list of other potential owners and that's what resulted in the $13 million capital raise."

An expansion of IFN's current network is one of the main priorities for the funding, according to Turner. He says the company is also looking to deepen its presence in areas where it is already located.

Turner adds the partnership with WVPA "makes great sense" since the association was already an IFN customer. 

"The digitization of electricity networks through fiber-optic connection is an essential means of providing stable, cost effective power," Jay Bartlett, CEO of Wabash Valley Power, said in a news release. "As such, the connected grid presents unique communications challenges to maintain the highest level of cyber security. Partnering with IFN provides us an opportunity to simultaneously connect and secure a complex electrical generation and transmission network."

The capital raise also included contributions from IFN member-owners Heartland Innovations Inc. in Ligonier, Rochester Telephone Co., LightStream in Buffalo, Monon Telephone Co., Citizens Telephone Corp. in Warren, NineStar Connect in Greenfield, and Enhanced Telecommunications in Sunman.