ELKHART — Surf Internet SM is beginning to build more than 250 miles of fiber internet to rural homes across northern Indiana, using more than $6 million awarded by Indiana’s Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program, and investments of its private equity of $3.6 million.
This is the largest fiber-optic infrastructure project in northern Indiana to directly address underserved communities, a news release said.
Surf will begin construction in Elkhart County in late March, with projects in La Porte and Newton County to follow later in the year.
“The construction of these Indiana projects represents a significant success in our strategy to combine grant dollars and our investments to provide high-speed Internet to underserved residents,” Surf CEO Gene Crusie said in the release. “Instead of focusing on housing in densely populated areas, we are applying for grants in areas that would otherwise be financially impossible to reach on our own. By partnering with local communities in this way, we can expand our fiber network even further, opening the door to better opportunities for education, business and personal communication. ”
In Elkhart County, where construction will begin, the funding will create an unnecessary loop to Wakarusa from Goshen, particularly addressing underserved populations in southwest Goshen. A fiber-optic network will also be built along the rural stretch of CR 28 from CR 27 in Goshen to cross Ind. 13 in Middlebury. In total, 478 households and 25 businesses and/or institutions in Elkhart County that would otherwise not be able to connect to the Internet will have access to high-speed broadband.
“Expanding fiber and broadband options for Elkhart County continues to be important,” said Elkhart County Commissioner Suzie Weirick. “Having ongoing funding to develop these connections keeps our communities connected to each other and to the world. In fact, investments in broadband networks in urban and rural areas will make us attractive to all people, and position Elkhart County to be a thriving community for residents and businesses. ”
The NLC Broadband Grant Program has awarded a total of $268 million for broadband infrastructure to more than 74,800 homes and businesses. Combined with private and local investment, more than $580 million has been spent as of 2018. Projects will be completed in 83 of Indiana’s 92 counties in three rounds of awards.
Residents and business owners seeking project updates can visit Surf’s construction page at construction.surfinternet.com. To see if services are available at a particular address, visit surfinternet.com and click the blue “Check Availability” button.