Bartholomew County will consider a historic milestone that could make the community one of the most technically advanced regions in the country.
In a meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, Bartholomew County commissioners will vote on a letter of intent with a New York City infrastructure investment company that will result in the installation of fiber optic lines across the county.
If all goes according to plan, Bartholomew County could become one of the very few counties in the entire United States to have fiber optic cable in all regions, County Commissioner Tony said. London.
As well as being one of the three main leaders of the county government, London is also chairman of the Bartholomew County Broadband Initiative Committee.
If the two sides agree to go ahead, around $ 50 million will be invested to bring high-speed internet service to almost every residence in the county, London said. Broadband Internet is a shortcut for broadband service with download speeds of up to 1000 megabits per second.
Although this type of service has only been around for a few years and is available in a handful of cities, it is widely regarded as the future of home internet connectivity.
When asked if that meant a high-speed internet connection would be available to every household in Bartholomew County, London said that was the end goal.
“There may be a few houses that are just simply inaccessible, such as residences with extremely long driveways,” the committee chair said. “The bare minimum is to reach 85% of all homes in Bartholomew County. However, we would expect that number to be in the order of 95%.
Plans call for the expansion to continue until every household in the county finally has the option of getting high-speed internet access, London said.
The Commissioners’ agenda distributed to the public indicates that the letter of intent will be with Meridiam Infrastructure North American Corp. Part of a global company headquartered in Paris, France, Meridiam began specializing in investing in public and community infrastructure projects after being incorporated 13 years ago.
The company will have representatives who will participate in the meeting via video conference, London said.
If the letter of intent is approved by both parties, negotiations will begin to create a contract that could be finalized by the end of the year, the commissioner said. Once the contract is signed, teams will begin building the fiber-optic infrastructure in the first quarter of 2022. It will take around 18 months for fiber-optic cables to be available across the county, London said.
Contract negotiations will include the customer price, London said. Current estimates indicate that high speed internet will be available for less than $ 100 per month. Efforts are also underway to make high-speed service more affordable for skilled low-income families, he said.
The letter of intent says Meridiam will build and own the fiber optic network in Bartholomew County, as well as hire a home internet provider, the first-term commissioner said. Many see fiber optic cable as a solid investment because lines don’t degrade for 40 to 50 years, London said.
“The only things that will need to be changed over time will be the electronics that drive it,” said the committee chairman. “We’re going to start with gigabit speed fiber that could instantly reach 10 GB with the current configuration. “
Meridiam typically establishes this type of infrastructure with cities and municipalities that currently include Bloomington, Shelbyville and Martinsville, the first-term commissioner said.
But one of the big reasons the company is willing to embark on a local, county-wide project is the county government’s willingness to reach out and work with them, London said. The county has already set aside $ 4 million for the installation of high-speed internet, which will help the company reach several rural homes far from each other, he said.
No business or family content with their current level of service will be forced to switch ISPs, London said.
“The problem we are facing is that the majority of Bartholomew County have no options,” London said.
He described the steps that will likely begin on Monday as the culmination of a lot of work done by a significant number of people.
How to watch
The Bartholomew County Commissioners Meeting will begin at 10 a.m. Monday in Commissioners Chambers near Third and Franklin Streets.
But due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public will not be allowed to attend the meeting in person.
Those who wish to watch, listen, and participate should request an invitation to the meeting’s Zoom videoconference.
Requests for invitations to the Zoom meeting can be made by contacting the Bartholomew County Auditor’s Office at 812-379-1510.