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Mainstream looks to increase coverage area

Mainstream looks to increase coverage area Mainstream looks to increase coverage area

Harrison County’s provider of fiber-optic services is looking to expand coverage in Harrison County and neighboring counties with financial assistance through a state grant.

Mainstream Fiber Networks has three projects it’s looking to secure funding for, with work identified in Harrison, Crawford and Floyd counties. Collectively, the three projects would cost more than $14.6 million, according to the company’s grant applications on the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs website.

Through Indiana’s Next Level Broadband program, the state is funding high-speed internet projects to accelerate access to rural broadband services. Earlier this year, $22.1 million was given to 11 expansion projects throughout the state.

Mainstream had three of the 64 applications, and, while none were selected, the projects are still getting consideration as the state had set aside $100 million for the program.

Mainstream’s grant application for its project in Harrison County will serve 798 households and 92 businesses.

“The area served in Harrison County reflects the remaining connections needed to bring broadband to the remaining 19% of areas that do not currently have access,” Mainstream wrote in its application. “These areas are located throughout the county.”

Mainstream estimated the project to cost $4,229,471, with the company matching 51% of the amount, totaling $2,157,300.

The fiber-optic service provider has been in Harrison County since 2014, when the company proposed connecting county government departments to each other and the internet through fiber cable. The project was called Phase I and included the creation of a fiber loop in the Corydon area. Mainstream Fiber Networks financed the project.

For Phase II, which began in 2017 and was completed the following year, Mainstream laid out 122 miles of 72-strand fiber-optic cable as a “backbone” and base to expand its service area to rural sections of Harrison County. The backbone provided redundant connections and reaches 81% of all addresses in the county. It took $15 million to complete, with Mainstream spending $10 million, Harrison County adding in $2 million and the Harrison County Community Foundation contributing $3 million.

If Mainstream is awarded the funds, it plans to provide internet speeds of one gigabits per second for uploads and downloads by June 30, 2021.

Mainstream’s applications in neighboring Crawford County’ would serve 2,281 households and 384 businesses.

“It will allow for more educational effectiveness and opportunities, business growth and expansion, Agri-Tech opportunities for farmers, telehealth options, teleworking opportunities and increased quality of life,” according to Mainstream’s application.

The total eligible project cost is $6,224,941, and Mainstream said it would have the services up and running by June 30, 2021, if it receives the funding.

“Without the Next Level Connection Broadband grant, the Crawford County project would not be able to be implemented to reach as many households as projected,” according to the application. “The state resources greatly assist in bringing broadband to multiple areas in the county. If the resources were not available, the county would not be able to make up the difference and MSFN may not be able to finance all of the dollars required (because of the projections).”

In Floyd County, Mainstream plans to bring broadband internet with one gigabit per second speeds to 2,520 households and 463 businesses, located in the northern and southern portions of the county.

The total cost of the project is $4,262,977.