The future of fiber: Unlocking connectivity’s next chapter

Posted on Mar 06 2024 in Decatur County REMC

It has been a little over a year since we first met regarding broadband. That first town hall meeting was well attended and confirmed what we already knew — there was a pressing demand for broadband services. Even though we haven’t shared much, we have been working hard behind the scenes this past year.

As previously discussed, our feasibility study serves as the gauge for the possibility of our fiber project. After analyzing the data alongside the projected take rate, we’ve arrived at our figures. However, these figures alone do not support moving forward. We will not raise electric rates to cover this expense, and ensuring affordability is our priority. Therefore, securing grant funding is essential.

Decatur County REMC has secured $500,000 from Decatur County ARPA Funds (contingent upon fiber approval). This is a great start, but more is needed. We submitted our application for the State of Indiana’s Next Level Connect Grant in February. We will continue to apply as each additional grant application opens. The grant dollars awarded to Decatur County REMC will stay in the community, supporting local development and prioritizing community investment.

I’m also thrilled to share news of our partnership with SEI Communications. Much like Decatur County REMC, SEI Communications is a member-owned cooperative guided by shared principles and a steadfast dedication to serving our members, with a top priority of keeping costs low. SEI Communications has a rich history in telecommunications and a highly skilled team, we eagerly anticipate the opportunities our collaboration will bring.

Allow me to clarify clearly: the fiber project is not yet finalized. If we secure sufficient grant funding to meet the feasibility threshold, the project will proceed to the board for ultimate approval. Our Fiber to the Home project will be officially launched upon this approval.

Just like 80 years ago, Decatur County REMC brought electricity to our rural territory when for-profit companies would not. History is repeating itself today with fiber. With Decatur County having the 10th most underserved addresses in the state, unlocking the connectivity barrier for our members remains our primary focus. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. My door is always open, my phone is readily available, and I’m eager to chat with you.

Thank you, county council!

What are the ARPA Funds?

American Recovery Plan Act provides local governments a unique opportunity to invest in long-lived assets.

Allocating these funds to Decatur County REMC ensures that the money remains within the local community. Our Fiber to the Home initiative will extend to remote and rural areas lacking sufficient connectivity, fostering local economic growth by creating jobs and strengthening businesses. It will also boost connectivity to enhance education and healthcare services, among other benefits. The potential impacts are limitless.

*Decatur County REMC will not receive these ARPA funds if the fiber project is canceled or is not approved.