NewsPublic Affairs / January 28, 2019

Rural Broadband Internet To Expand In Northern Indiana

Rural Broadband Internet To Expand In Northern Indiana

A sign on the road into New Richmond, Indiana boasts the town's role in the 1985 film "Hoosiers." The town is one of three where Tipmont REMC will roll out high-speed internet services.

Huw Williams/CC-0

LINDEN, Ind. (AP) — An electricity cooperative is expanding broadband internet services in rural parts of northern Indiana, setting the stage for possible economic growth in the region.

Tipmont REMC is rolling out high-speed internet services in Tippecanoe County and the rural towns of Romney, New Richmond and Linden.

The cooperative aims to bring broadband internet to its nearly 24,000 members, with the first expansion set to bring the service to 1,200 members in Linden, Tipmont spokesman Rob Ford told the Journal & Courier .

"There's a term that we refer to as fundamental fairness," Ford said. "The idea that regardless of where you live you should have access to the same tools, the same essential services."

A lack of a decent broadband connection can keep people from moving to rural areas, said Ron Holcomb, Tipmont's president and CEO.

"Especially for the younger folks, a lot of their economic well-being is tied to that," he said. "And it drives them out of rural areas because they can't compete and survive in that environment."

A Purdue University study released last year found that Indiana could see $12 billion in net benefits with statewide investment in broadband. That study analyzed the statewide benefits from rural broadband installed by Rural Electric Member Cooperatives.

Those benefits include telemedicine, education, business investment, consumer savings and farm income changes. The study also found that Indiana could also see increased tax collections and decreased medical costs by expanding rural broadband.

"It goes to show you that if you make the right kind of investment, people will leverage that investment and they'll get a lot out of it," Holcomb said.

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