TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Efforts to expand broadband internet service throughout Vigo County are progressing. Tuesday evening, leaders with the project met with the Vigo County Council to discuss funding, to make it a reality.
As internet access becomes more important than ever, local officials said some areas of Vigo County still lack the ability to receive fast and reliable service. This rings especially true for rural areas.
“There’s a lot of fiber already laid within the city but as soon as you get out of the city limits that’s where the issues arise because the network simply isn’t there,” Brendan Kearns, Vigo County commissioner, said.
In a collaboration between the Vigo County School Corporation, state and local government, and service provider Joink, 84 key connectivity points have been identified throughout Terre Haute and Vigo County.
“Our initial goal right now is to get internet out to common areas, parks, fire houses, community centers, that way those areas have high speed internet that anyone in the public can access,” Kearns said.
Kearns said from there more efforts can be made to increase connectivity.
“Once that system’s in place that’ll allow people to potentially hook on to that network depending on where the line went,” Kearns said.
Vigo County Schools superintendent Dr. Rob Haworth said expanded internet service has become a necessity for students. During a survey performed during the summer, school officials learned that nearly half of respondents did not have internet they considered reliable enough for distance learning.
“It makes the supper table the classroom and our students need it and they need it now,” Haworth said.
To help fund the project, the Vigo County School Corporation and Joink have secured over $3 million in grants combined. During a meeting of the Vigo County Council on Tuesday, the council was asked to use just over $2.8 million in already existing EDIT funds to push the project forward.
“It’s a lot of money but in the grand scheme of things when you look at buildings we are doing for $60 million plus, for this nominal investment the pay-off is going to be huge in improving our quality of life and improving Vigo County as a whole,” Kearns said.
The county council decided that a committee will meet next week to further discuss funding for the project. The earliest the council can vote on the matter is in early December.
Also during the meeting, state Sen. Jon Ford and Rep. Tonya Pfaff spoke in favor of the project.