Jackson County REMC Fiber receives grant for project


Thanks to an increase in state funding, the local cost of bringing high-speed internet to rural Jackson County has decreased.

On Nov. 21, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the Next Level Broadband program had awarded an additional $6.3 million in grants, bringing the first-round total to $28.4 million for 14 broadband expansion infrastructure projects across the state.

Jackson County Rural Electric Membership Corp., which serves Bartholomew, Brown, Clark, Jackson, Jennings, Jefferson, Lawrence, Monroe, Scott and Washington counties, was included in the additional funds.

The requested grant amount is nearly $1.3 million with a local match of about $4 million for a total project cost of nearly $5.2 million.

The grant money will help serve approximately 1,050 unserved households, 25 unserved businesses and eight anchor institutions, according to a news release from the state.

Breaking it down, Jackson County will see monies from the grant.

"There were 143 members in Jackson County in the census blocks we applied for in the grant," said Nicole Ault, communications and marketing specialist for Jackson County REMC.

"Basically, the grant just helps keep the cost lower," she said. "We were still going to do the project if we didn’t get it. It helped the overall cost because we want to provide it to our members as affordably priced as we can. It definitely helped the overall project cost."

Jackson County customers in the areas of Sauers, Wegan, Tampico and Cortland and Owen, Pershing and Salt Creek townships have been connected. Parts of Reddington and Freetown also are able to pre-drop, and Dudleytown and Uniontown should have it in the near future.

REMC has a map available at jacksonconnect.net/front_end/zones to show what is open for service and what is in the works with the project.

As of Nov. 21, 1,004.6 miles of fiber had already been installed. When the project is finished, nearly 2,000 miles of fiber will be installed.

The project is moving right along, as Jackson County REMC Fiber recently made its 2,000th connection. The 1,000th connection was made May 29.

Next Level Broadband is part of Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections infrastructure program, which accelerates the completion of major highway projects, expands access to rural broadband services, creates more nonstop flights and pursues the expansion of rail projects in northwest Indiana.

The initial $22.1 million in Next Level funding for 11 broadband expansion infrastructure projects was announced in August, and the recent awards to Jackson County REMC’s project three broadband expansion infrastructure projects closed the Next Level Broadband program’s first round of funding.

For the first round of funding, service providers could apply for up to $5 million per project to expand service to unserved areas if they provided at least a 20% match.

Unserved areas are those without at least one telecommunication provider offering internet fast enough to provide the most basic services — at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, along with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, oversees the program. OCRA received 64 applications, and a multi-agency committee reviewed the proposals based on the Next Level Broadband program objectives.

Jackson County REMC’s not-for-profit high-speed broadband internet division, Jackson County REMC Fiber, created in 2017, is making a broadband internet connection, up to 1 Gbps, available to all 20,000 members in its service territory.

The project involves installing fiber optic line on existing REMC utility poles and then to the homes of REMC’s customers.

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For information on the services, you can reach the Jackson County REMC office at 812-358-4458, visit its Facebook page or see the website at jacksonconnect.net.


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