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Next Level Connections-Indy STAR

11:19AM September 11, 2018

Indy Star Article
MARTINSVILLE — South Central Indiana Rural Electric Membership Corporation (SCI REMC) recently announced phase two of its four-phase fiber-to-the-home network, SCI Fiber, across its service territory. Construction on phase one of the SCI Fiber network began in June of this year, and phase two construction will begin in early 2019.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Connections announcement last Tuesday was monumental for all of Indiana, but especially the 1.3 million Hoosiers served by Indiana’s electric cooperatives. In addition to announcing funding for transportation projects that will connect the state in multiple ways, Indiana’s electric cooperatives were most encouraged by the $100 million investment to expand high-speed internet service for the rural areas of the state.

Over the last several years, Gov. Holcomb. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana General Assembly have listened and responded to the concerns of our electric cooperative consumers who struggle with basic activities. Such as the student who cannot download information to complete a research assignment; the doctor who cannot offer her patients the critical care access through telemedicine; or the small business owner who had to close their doors because they could not sell their products online.

Gov. Holcomb and other state leaders have built a strong foundation from which to advance the availability of affordable and reliable high-speed internet for all of Indiana. Last week’s announcement of the state’s $100 million investment in rural broadband is a remarkable assurance to rural Hoosiers their economic health and quality of life are important.

Indiana’s 38 electric cooperatives distribute electricity in 89 of the state’s 92 counties, or about 80 percent of the landmass. The areas of the state served by the electric cooperatives are also the most starved for quality high-speed internet service. The electric cooperatives have repeatedly been reminded by our consumers the disadvantages they experience without access to high-speed internet service hinders them in the same way not having electricity did in the 1930s.

Aside from there being a fundamental need for this essential service, a recently-released Purdue University study demonstrated the significant impact that reliable and affordable high-speed internet will have on both the state’s economy and the pocketbooks of individual Hoosiers. This study estimates nearly $12 billion in economic benefits if high-speed internet were deployed in the rural areas of the state, with a return of nearly $4 to the local economy for every dollar spent on the necessary infrastructure. This study clearly shows the return on the investment is significant and justifies a meaningful investment.

Indiana’s electric cooperatives applaud Gov. Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Crouch and the Indiana General Assembly for their continued leadership, engagement and commitment to providing solutions to an issue of urgent and significant importance to rural Hoosiers.

Tom VanParis


Indiana Electric Cooperatives

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