SOLVING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: TELECOM and fiber and rural electric – oh my! (Part 1)

In rural America, 35 percent of Americans – or roughly 22 million people – lack meaningful access to high-speed broadband internet. This is compared to just 3 percent of people in urban areas.

Sometimes referred to as the “digital divide,” this gap in broadband availability is frankly unacceptable when you consider that every industry – from healthcare and education to manufacturing and farming – increasingly relies on internet connectivity. The digital divide, in other words, hurts more than our ability to stream videos.

A recent report from the Indiana Broadband Technology Association shows that Indiana is beginning to close the gap in broadband availability. But there is more work to do.

In this series of blog posts, we will explore a solution to Indiana’s digital divide which involves fiber networks, telephone companies, and rural electric co-ops working together to connect all Hoosiers to high speed broadband – much like a focus on instant telephonic communications and electrification transformed the landscape of rural America in the early part of the 20th century.

In 1935, only 10 percent of rural America had access to electrical power. This figure was in sharp contrast to the 90 percent of urban dwellers who utilized electricity daily.

In an effort to elevate the living condition of all Americans – regardless of where they lived – the Roosevelt Administration enacted the Rural Electrification Act in 1936. The act provided federal loans to install electrical distribution systems to serve isolated areas throughout the country. These funds were distributed through rural electric membership corporations (REMCs) – most of which still exist today.

Thanks to the Rural Electrification Act and REMCs, 90 percent of rural America had access to electricity by 1950. In less than 15 years, living conditions in rural areas completely changed, creating access to electronic appliances, running water, and a connection to the outside world via radio.

Today, we’ve reached a similar turning point regarding the need for greater connectivity via the internet. Just as REMCs connected Americans through electricity access – and telephone companies connected the country via instant communication – these companies, working hand-in-hand with fiber networks such as IFN, can deliver this connectivity to Hoosiers who are caught in the digital divide.

Stay tuned for Part 2 when we will discuss the key players in advancing fiber connectivity across the state.

 

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Indiana Fiber Network Contracts with Whitley County to Expand Broadband Internet Access, Promote Economic Development

Indiana Fiber Network expanding broadband internet access in and around the Park 30 Business Center

INDIANAPOLIS (May 7, 2018) – Indiana Fiber Network, LLC (IFN), a leading fiber-based service provider in Indiana, today announces a contract with the Whitley County Commissioners to augment its network to serve the Park 30 Business Center and additional businesses along the U.S. Highway 30 corridor.

In addition, IFN will construct the necessary facilities in and around the Park 30 Business Center to properly service area businesses along the fiber route with low-cost, high-bandwidth Internet service. The company will also offer promotional pricing to these businesses. Once IFN has extended its fiber facilities into a business, the company can offer carrier-agnostic connectivity.

“High speed fiber optics are redefining the way Hoosiers work, play, collaborate and communicate in today’s global economy,” said Jim Turner, CEO of Indiana Fiber Network. “Our fiber backbone extends from Fort Wayne through the Columbia City metro area and continues on to Warsaw, connecting dozens of businesses to our state and nationwide network. We look forward to the opportunities increased bandwidth and fiber communication options will bring to Whitley County.”

The Park 30 Business Center is a business and industrial park developed by electric utility company Northeastern Rural Electric Membership Corporation (NREMC). Park 30 is a shovel ready industrial park which includes full underground utility infrastructure and transportation connections which will now include access to Indiana Fiber Network’s fiber-optic cable network.

“We have come to realize that for businesses to flourish in Whitley County, broadband internet infrastructure is just as important as other services like water, sewer and roads,” said George Schrumpf, President of the Whitley County Commissioners. “Expanding the county’s fiber footprint will grow the businesses all along the US 30 corridor. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to work with IFN on this project and we are hopeful that its success will spur additional projects to roll out this vital service across the county.”

IFN anticipates the fiber-optic facilities will be complete in July 2018, allowing IFN to expand the fiber construction directly to businesses along the fiber route.

“Fiber has higher bandwidth capacity and uses less energy than copper facilities,” said IFN Director of Business Development Rob Ramsey. “More bandwidth and less electricity save businesses money, particularly in today’s world where businesses transmit large amounts of data, as fiber optics are ideally suited for those applications.”

IFN provides fiber broadband service via more than 4,500 route miles of fiber transport and connects more than 4,000 buildings in Indiana.

For more information about Indiana Fiber Network, please visit www.indianafiber.net.

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About Indiana Fiber Network

Formed in 2002, Indiana Fiber Network, LLC (IFN) is comprised by twenty local exchange telephone companies throughout the state. They offer data center, Internet backbone and data transport services over state-of-the-art Ethernet, CDWM, DWDM, and SONET fiber networks, with service in the State of Indiana and throughout the US via a network of national partners. For more information, please visit IFN’s website at www.indianafiber.net or call (317) 280-4636.

About Whitley County EDC

The Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is the lead economic development agency in Whitley County, Indiana. The EDC works closely with local, regional and state partners to support our industry clients’ growth and success. Our mission is to lead a comprehensive economic development program that retains and expands employment opportunities for local residents and attracts business investment to Whitley County. The Whitley County EDC was established in 1992 and represents Whitley County, Columbia City and the Towns of Churubusco, Larwill and South Whitley. For more information about the EDC, visit: www.whitleyedc.com.

Media Contacts

Madisen Petrosky, Dittoe PR for Indiana Fiber Network, madisen@dittoepr.com or 317-202-2280 X 16

Katie Dewitt (Whitley County EDC), kdewitt@whitleyedc.com or 260-244-5506

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Indiana Fiber Network overhauls core platform network to upgrade service across Indiana

IFN performs comprehensive update of packet network to prepare for future innovations and growth.

INDIANAPOLIS (April 3, 2018) – Indiana Fiber Network, LLC (IFN) today announces it has begun a multi-year, multi-million dollar network upgrade across the state to increase capacity and improve broadband access reliability. The upgrades will increase capacity, improve stability, and add efficiency – all of which are geared toward enhancing customers’ service experience.

 “Over the last year, IFN has invested over $20 million dollars in customer and infrastructure-related projects to enable scalable and secure high-speed broadband connectivity for users in both urban and rural areas, said Jim Turner, Indiana Fiber Network CEO. “These investments will help drive sustainable economic development across the state. More importantly, these network infrastructure upgrades will allow us to meet the growing service demands of our carrier and enterprise customers.”

The hardware upgrades are set to take place in phases over the next two years. Phase one of four in 2018 is now complete, with the remaining 2018 phases to be completed in April, May and June. Additional phases of the project will begin in the first quarter of 2019.

“This is a significant upgrade to IFN’s packet network,” said Darryl Smith, IFN vice president of operations. “This is a multi-phased project, scheduled to be completed in late 2019, leveraging the latest technology. The platform upgrades and architectural changes IFN is implementing will position our network to handle the capacity and demands created by new protocols, such as 5G, as they become more widely available.”

IFN provides fiber broadband service via more than 4,500 route miles of fiber transport and connects more than 4,000 buildings in Indiana. IFN’s network provides Ethernet service speeds of up to 100 Gbps to its member/owners, carriers, data centers and enterprise customers.

For more information about Indiana Fiber Network, please visit www.indianafiber.net.

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About Indiana Fiber Network

Indiana Fiber Network, LLC (IFN) was formed in March of 2002, whose ownership is comprised by twenty local exchange telephone companies throughout the state. They offer data center, Internet backbone, and data transport services over state-of-the-art Ethernet, CDWM, DWDM, and SONET fiber networks, with service in the State of Indiana and throughout the US via a network of national carrier partners. For more information, please visit IFN’s website at www.indianafiber.net or call (317) 280-4636

Media Contact

Kate Stuard, Dittoe PR for Indiana Fiber Network, kate@dittoepr.com or 317-202-2280 X 18

 

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Fiber and the Digital Divide: Closing the Gap

Nearly every household and business in America today has reliable electricity and a telephone connection. A century ago, this was key to connectivity down the street and across the country. A phone line and electricity allowed businesses to flourish in big cities and small towns, spurring growth in both jobs and population.

The governmental oversight that encouraged this infrastructure paid off well into the 1970s. However, as the ‘80s and ‘90s saw the rise of the internet, its popularity and necessity, the fervor that allowed for infrastructural investments to connect rural America to city centers has been slower to take hold for the internet.

In rural America, 35 percent of Americans – or roughly 22 million people – lack access to high-speed broadband internet. This is compared to just 3 percent of people in urban areas. When every industry from health care and education to manufacturing and farming rely on internet connectivity, this digital divide between rural and urban communities hurts more than our ability to stream videos.

Rural economic development: The power of fiber

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) defines economic development as “creating the conditions for economic growth and improved quality of life by expanding the capacity of individuals, firms and communities to maximize the use of their talents and skills to support innovation, lower transaction costs and responsibly produce and trade valuable goods and services.”

Today, companies like Amazon, Google and Salesforce couldn’t exist without cutting-edge high-speed internet access, but neither could companies like John Deere or Ford. Businesses in all industries need reliable access to high-speed internet to compete locally and globally. Connecting rural America with reliable internet access means those communities have equal access to the information companies like Salesforce or John Deere have, without the need to move to silicon city hubs.

Not only will existing businesses be better connected, but individuals will as well. While everyone who grew up in the country won’t want to live there forever, those who do are often pulled away by their careers. It’s unlikely budding entrepreneurs can run a start-up through dial-up internet, but removing that barrier removes limitations on where and when businesses can begin. The same holds true for large enterprises looking to expand. According to Broadband Communities, while “the presence of a robust broadband network may not itself be sufficient to persuade an organization to come to or stay in a community, the absence of such a network guarantees that potential employers will go elsewhere.”

Equal access to fiber broadband means rural Americans have equal access to opportunities in today’s information age, without the need to move away from the communities they love.

Indiana Fiber Network: Connecting Indiana 

Today, IFN’s 4,100 route miles of fiber optic cable is in 456 Indiana towns and cities. Not only are we investing in connecting Hoosiers across the state, we are also part of the INDATEL network to connect our customers across the country. Our highly resilient network guarantees you connectivity to complete the activities or research your business needs to compete on a global scale. For more updates, follow Indiana Fiber Network on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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Fiber and 5G: What’s Next?

The internet has unquestionably become a vital part of our lives. Many people today rely on the internet not only for the distractions provided by social media, but for work, education and navigation. Wherever you are, you can see someone holding some sort of smart device, using the internet at lightning speed. Over that past few years the internet has become a basic need people place in the same category as food, water and electricity. Our use has increased, and with it, the need for faster internet speeds.

The increase from 1G to 4G in the past half century has been vast. The first iteration of wireless communication capabilities was 1G that burst onto the scene around the 1960s, moving at 2.4 kbps (kilobytes per second) and only boasting a basic voice service. 2G and 3G both made their way in the 1990s, designed for voice and some data consideration. Speed jumped considerably from 64 kbps to 2,000 kbps, making it easier to talk and text. Eight years ago, 4G arrived, finally giving us true mobile broadband at speeds up to 100,000 kbps.

From 1G to 4G there has been a huge transformation—but what does 5G have in store for us?

According to CNBC, 5G will perform up to ten times faster than the current 4G networks. That will allow a great boost in data speed. Content that takes us minutes to download now will be downloaded in seconds with 5G. Entire new businesses will be created, and significant advances will happen in areas of health, energy and public safety due to the ability to connect billions of devices and individuals. Accenture recently predicted the birth of 5G in the U.S. will create three million American jobs and drive over $500 billion in U.S. gross domestic product growth.

The promise of new technology is exciting, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. 4G requires large cellular towers dispersed every few miles to work properly. 5G, however, will require a massive deployment of small cell technology to enable the network to handle the sheer amount of data transmission.

While many Americans believe we’re living in a wireless world, 4G and 5G alike rely on infrastructure. 5G won’t even be able to get off the ground without streamlining the process to approve and build these small local cells. Today, it can take a year or more to get a permit, but only an hour to install a small cell.

More importantly, 5G will heavily rely on fiber. Faster speeds of 5G will depend on higher radio frequencies and greater fiber network densification, meaning there needs to be an increased number of small cell infrastructures and a greater fiber network to connect and facilitate 5G usage. To show how important fiber is, Deloitte reports 90 percent of all internet traffic travels over wireline fiber, even if it ultimately terminates on a wireless device.

With that much traffic relying on wireline fiber, it should be installed everywhere we live, work and play. However, fiber passes less than one third of homes in the U.S., and only 39 percent of consumers have access to more than one broadband provider of 25 Mbps (megabits per second) service—the minimum speed definition of broadband according to the Federal Communications Commission. Adding and expanding fiber will not only set the stage for consumers to use 5G, but it will provide them with the internet connection they have been missing.

Today, Indiana Fiber Network (IFN) manages 4,100 route miles of fiber optic cable across the state of Indiana, connecting more than 4,000 buildings. Additionally, IFN provides national connectivity through carrier hotels and INDATEL to expand its footprint. IFN provides the most secure, reliable, and cost-effective telecommunications services possible. For more updates, follow Indiana Fiber Network on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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INDIANA FIBER NETWORK HIRES DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES

INDIANAPOLIS (February 12, 2018) – Technology service provider Indiana Fiber Network (IFN) announces today that Susan Hofer has joined the company as director of human resources. Ms. Hofer will be based in Indianapolis at IFN’s corporate office and will be responsible for directing the company’s human resources strategy and managing all talent-related functions.

“Susan Hofer brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the Indiana Fiber Network team,” said Jim Turner, chief executive officer of IFN. “Technology businesses such as ours need to attract and retain talent in a very competitive employment market. Having someone with Susan’s strategic vision and proven track record for helping to build high performance teams will be invaluable as Indiana Fiber Network continues to grow.”

Ms. Hofer brings over 25 years of experience in human resources to her new role at IFN. Most recently, she served as vice president of human resources and corporate communications at FULLBEAUTY Brands, a comprehensive resource for plus-size women and men. 

While at FULLBEAUTY Brands, Ms. Hofer led a team of managers and professionals in human resources and communications responsibilities, including compensation, performance management, training and development, associate relations, and internal corporate communications. Throughout her career, she has also held significant human resources positions at First Indiana Bank and Hyatt Hotels. 

“Throughout my career, I’ve prided myself on my ability to hire, develop and motivate skilled professionals from a variety of backgrounds and throughout numerous industries,” said Susan Hofer. “I look forward to immersing myself within the technology service industry and continuing to drive Indiana Fiber Network’s strategic human resources plan.” 

In addition to Ms. Hofer’s professional experience, she comes to IFN with several industry professional credentials, including Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Society of Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), and Certified Compensation Professional (CCP). Ms. Hofer also sits on the board of directors for Dress for Success Indianapolis. 

Ms. Hofer graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.S. in Human Resources Management and Michigan State University with a Master of Business Administration.  

     

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Indiana Fiber Network to Attend The Indiana Rural Health Association’s (IRHA) 15th Annual Indiana Public Policy Forum

irha-logoIndiana Fiber Network, LLC will be attending IRHA’s 15th Annual Indiana Public Policy Forum on January 23, 2018, at The Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis.  This year’s conference agenda includes; Healthcare Issues from the State Perspective and Plan for a Healthier Indiana, Reducing Indiana Infant Mortality, and Healthcare Issues from the National Perspective and Post-Election Impact on Rural Health.

About Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA)

IRHA is a not-for-profit corporation developed for the purpose of improving the health of all Indiana citizens in rural settings through leadership, education, advocacy, collaboration, and resource development. One of the programs that we administrate is the Indiana Telehealth Network (ITN), which currently has 72 participants around the state, including 24 Critical Access Hospitals, 4 rural hospitals, 5 urban partner hospitals, 5 Rural Health Clinics, 7 Federally Qualified Health Centers, and 27 Community Mental Health Centers.

The mission of the ITN is to improve the health and well-being of Indiana residents through the utilization of a dedicated broadband health network to deliver telehealth applications including, but not limited to, telemedicine, health information exchange, distance education and training, public health surveillance, emergency preparedness and trauma system development. More information on the ITN can be found on the IRHA website at www.indianaruralhealth.org under Programs/Indiana Telehealth Network.

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Indiana Fiber Network, LLC will attend IRHA’s Fall Forum

irha-logoIndiana Fiber Network, LLC will attend IRHA’s Fall Forum: Harvesting Rural Solutions on November 16, 2017

About Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA)

IRHA is a not-for-profit corporation developed for the purpose of improving the health of all Indiana citizens in rural settings through leadership, education, advocacy, collaboration, and resource development. One of the programs that we administrate is the Indiana Telehealth Network (ITN), which currently has 72 participants around the state, including 24 Critical Access Hospitals, 4 rural hospitals, 5 urban partner hospitals, 5 Rural Health Clinics, 7 Federally Qualified Health Centers, and 27 Community Mental Health Centers. The mission of the ITN is to improve the health and well-being of Indiana residents through the utilization of a dedicated broadband health network to deliver telehealth applications including, but not limited to, telemedicine, health information exchange, distance education and training, public health surveillance, emergency preparedness and trauma system development. More information on the ITN can be found on the IRHA website at www.indianaruralhealth.org under Programs/Indiana Telehealth Network.

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Indiana Fiber Network, LLC (IFN) Welcomes New President and CEO, James Turner

IN-Fiber-Network7-11-013Indiana Fiber Network, LLC (IFN) is pleased to welcome James Turner (Jim) as new President and CEO. Jim has extensive experience leading companies that provide critical infrastructure services to the public.

At IFN, Jim is working on sharpening operational execution across the business to improve efficiency, enhance owner value, and advance customer satisfaction. Jim is also working to refine IFN’s business model to ensure the company has the right culture, strategic processes, and operating tools to thrive in an increasingly competitive space. “In the management team, we have been defining the strategy and future direction for IFN, and we will continue following the plans we have made. I look forward to continuing the successful development of IFN alongside the strong IFN team that we have here”, said Turner.

Jim embraces the community and civic leadership, having served in leadership roles on numerous civic and non-profit organizations. He received his law degree cum laude from the Indiana University School of Law in 1984 following completion of his Bachelor’s Degree from Ball State University in 1981. Jim also completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2001.

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IFN Management Committee Provides Appreciation Plaque to Board Member Wayne Sparks

Wayne Sparks -Jim Turner

Wayne Sparks has served with distinction on the Management Committee of Indiana Fiber Network, LLC, since 2004 and has recently gone off the Management Committee as of June 27, 2017. Mr. Sparks displayed a strong commitment to IFN and its Member/Owners in addition to fulfilling his responsibilities as an employee of Daviess-Martin Rural Telephone Corporation. Mr. Sparks’ service on the Management Committee was characterized by integrity and thoughtfulness regarding the issues that came before the Committee. The Management Committee of Indiana Fiber Network, LLC, takes official recognition of Wayne Sparks’ long and devoted service and extends to him appreciation for his contributions to IFN and its Member/Owners.

(In photo) Jim Turner, IFN President and CEO presents the plaque to Wayne Sparks.

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