It’s customary that we announce news about the co-op to our members before it becomes public knowledge, but recently, certain opportunities with tight deadlines made that impossible.
As you’ve probably learned by now, LaGrange County REMC has applied for $5 million in LaGrange County Major Moves funding to launch broadband internet services to our members. It’s an opportunity we had to act quickly on.
Access to high-speed broadband internet is one of the biggest obstacles facing residents of rural LaGrange County, but we see an opportunity to bridge that gap — just like we did more than 80 years ago with electricity.
The proposed project outlines the potential for a nearly $20 million investment to offer fiber optic internet to about 5,500 of our members. It will cover 525 miles of our service territory.
The decision to pursue broadband began in 2019 with a member survey that asked for your feedback on the wants and needs of the community. More than 95% of the members surveyed expressed support for the REMC to offer high-speed broadband internet.
We listened, and we acted.
We conducted a feasibility study through the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative to estimate the cost and scope of such a project.
And soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The unprecedented health emergency emphasized the need for better broadband services for rural residents who found themselves grappling with inadequate internet as they worked from home, attended school virtually and visited with their physicians through telemedicine apps.
The scope of LaGrange County REMC’s project will be dependent on the amount of funding secured through federal, state and local grants. If adequate funding is received, we plan to provide bidirectional – same speeds for downloads and uploads – fiber to homes and businesses, with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second with no data caps.
Every piece of input and every voice heard helps to show how vital this project is to our county and its future prosperity.