Meridiam, a leading public infrastructure developer, investor and manager, along with the cities of Bloomington, Columbus and Shelbyville, Indiana, announced today that they have reached an agreement for Meridiam to build a ubiquitous fiber network for each city. The Hoosier Network Fiber Project received approval from each municipality’s requisite governing bodies and commissions. According to the agreement, Meridiam will build a state-of-the-art fiber infrastructure that will allow a third-party internet service provider (ISP) to deliver efficient, reliable and trusted service for each city. The ISP will be announced in the coming weeks.
As part of the agreement, Meridiam plans to invest more than $90 million to bring fiber based high-speed internet access to Bloomington, Columbus, and Shelbyville, whose residents and businesses are currently underserved in terms of access to high-speed internet services. Meridiam has committed to service at least 85% of premises, comprising at least 70,000 residences and businesses, across the three cities, and expects to exceed this target in the near future.
Bloomington’s 2020 Digital Equity Survey confirmed that a significant broadband gap continues to exist in Indiana communities and is blocking progress in education, employment, and community participation. The agreement announced today will help close the broadband gap and bring residents a truly high-speed internet service as the communities continue to attract students, families and businesses.
Through a phased approach, Meridiam anticipates that the first residents will be able to sign up for affordable, fiber-based broadband services in Bloomington by the end of 2022, with final premises receiving service by the first quarter of 2025. Columbus and Shelbyville residents will be able to sign up for service in the first quarter of 2023, with the final residents receiving service by the end of 2024. Residents will be offered multiple plan choices at various prices and internet speeds that fit their respective needs. Eligible low-income residents can utilize the Affordable Connectivity Plan (ACP) to attain access at no cost to them.
“As a mission-driven company, we are dedicated to ensuring that the Hoosier Network Fiber Project contributes real, tangible impacts for the Hoosier communities and works toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said Nicolas Rubio, Meridiam Chief Executive Officer, Americas. “Fiber is cross-generational, future-proof, and the leading way to help shrink the digital divide and foster more economic, educational, and entrepreneurial opportunities in our communities.”
In addition to closing the digital divide, the introduction of high-speed fiber internet services is expected to lead to more businesses opening, relocating, and expanding their operations in each of these cities, generating increased economic activity. This partnership is aimed to make remote work a more viable option to the residents in each of these communities.
“We are pleased that we are one step closer toward delivering local, equitable access to high-speed broadband service. The past few years have made clear how vital digital connections are for our communities, and we look forward to working alongside Meridiam to advance this initiative,” said Bloomington Mayor, John Hamilton.
The Hoosier Network Fiber Project, like Meridiam’s other fiber projects in Europe and Canada, aims to fill critical fiber infrastructure gaps by investing in better, faster connectivity throughout communities, thereby increasing access to job and educational opportunities.
As a leader in sustainable investment and asset management, Meridiam has delivered over $75 billion in total investment across more than 100 infrastructure projects globally, 20 of which are located in North America, making Meridiam an established partner of choice to the public sector.
Image source @pixabay
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