June 09, 2020

ELLETTSVILLE and MARTINSVILLE – Initial construction began May 27th for a unique fiber project to eventually serve 3,400 rural residents and businesses in Monroe and Owen Counties.  Smithville Communications, a top 100 national broadband company, and SCI REMC, Indiana’s largest rural electric cooperative, began physical construction of fiber service to 350 residents and businesses located in a rural area between Spencer and Gosport. Customers in this first area are expected to have services turned up before the end of the year.

The first phase of this joint fiber project, which has attracted national industry attention, is part of a unique partnership expected to accelerate the delivery of high-speed fiber broadband internet to residents and businesses in the common service areas between the two companies.

When completed in 2023, the project will serve approximately 3,400 residents and businesses in the common service areas around Ellettsville, Lake Monroe, and Gosport with high-speed, reliable fiber-based internet. These include homes presently served by copper-based service, which the new fiber will replace.

“This joint project will help both companies move forward in closing the digital divide in rural areas by providing high-speed, highly reliable fiber-based internet connectivity,” said Darby A. McCarty, Chairman and CEO of Smithville.

“Smithville appreciates the opportunity to partner with SCI REMC for this project – we both serve customers in essentially the same geographic area, and it makes sense to work together to provide service, particularly with the high cost to build fiber connectivity in rural areas.”

According to James Tanneberger, president and CEO of SCI REMC, when the fiber network is built and active, residential and business customers will be able to choose service from either Smithville or SCI REMC. As noted, both companies will independently market services to customers within the project area.

“This partnership is a win for everyone involved,” said Tanneberger. “By working with Smithville, we are able to meet our electric smart grid needs and ensure businesses and residents have access to world-class high-speed internet in the most expeditious, fiscally responsible way possible.”

“Smithville has been an SCI REMC member for many years, and we also currently provide connectivity to their offices,” Ms. McCarty added. “It represents a natural partnership, as we share a similar, community-minded approach to serving our customers.”

Tanneberger noted that the partnership leverages Smithville’s expertise and SCI REMC’s physical infrastructure to build the network and meet the needs of members. Building separate physical fiber networks represents a costly option. The partnership allows for faster delivery of service to members. SCI REMC plans to continue building its own fiber network beyond the common service area where members currently don’t have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.

“This partnership represents a huge win for rural residents in south-central Indiana, and these two companies are proving how Hoosiers can innovate and work together to deliver cutting-edge services to consumers,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “As we move to take Indiana to the Next Level, Smithville and SCI REMC are raising the bar and setting an example for how to purposefully accelerate the availability of high-speed broadband in the state.”

About Smithville

Nationally recognized for more than a decade as a Top 100 Broadband Company, privately owned Smithville is Indiana’s largest independent telecom company with more than 200 employees. As a fifth-generation, family-owned business, Smithville has been committed to delivering fast and reliable connectivity and legendary service to its customers for nearly a century. The company is well-known as an industry leader and community supporter for rural Indiana.

Since the early 1990s, Smithville has constructed more than 2,800 miles of high-speed, high-capacity fiber across more than 17 Indiana counties, representing private investments totaling upward of a quarter of a billion dollars, including the recent completion of a $4.5 million, 100-gigabit fiber ring.

In addition to its residential services, Smithville provides commercial fiber-based connectivity for businesses, university campuses, biotechnology companies, healthcare providers, government offices, residential centers, communities, and other entities, including the WestGate@Crane Technology Park and the Purdue Research Park. The company currently serves about 23,000 businesses and residences in southern and central Indiana. For more information, please visit www.smithville.com.

About SCI REMC

South Central Indiana Rural Electric Membership Corporation (SCI REMC) was established in 1939 and is the largest rural electric cooperative in Indiana. Electric cooperatives were organized by people living in rural areas who banded together to supply electricity to their own homes. We are a non-profit, owned and operated by the 28,200 members we serve, across seven counties. 

SCI Fiber was launched in 2018 and offers residential and commercial telecommunication services. SCI Fiber has over 2,600 residential subscribers with 830 miles of mainline and distribution fiber in place. The fiber network is being built incrementally over the next 3-4 years to ensure SCI REMC’s members have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. Installing fiber throughout the service territory will help modernize our electric grid to meet members’ growing desires to save energy through load control and other functions that require smart infrastructure.

SCI REMC is a leader among other co-ops in its technological advancements, energy efficiency as well as its community involvement. SCI REMC hosts several community programs, including Operation RoundUp, where our members round up their electric bill payments to the nearest dollar. Through this program, our members have distributed more than $3.2 million in grants for area charitable organizations and civic groups. In addition, SCI REMC sponsors various community events and energy programs for area youths. For more information, please visit sciremc.com/fiber. 

Related article:

Smithville, SCI REMC launch unique customer-focused agreement to accelerate high-speed fiber construction in common service area.