I want to begin by again thanking the 625 residents who responded to our community survey. A majority of you confirmed we are working on many projects you support but we also learned about other concerns in the community.
We hope to address some of these needs and others are the responsibility of other organizations. The Harrison County Community Foundation (HCCF) has no authority over other public or private agencies, so you should contact those responsible with your ideas.
Without question, the fiber optic internet project led the way in community support and comments. To update everyone, as of Tuesday, July 17, we have 112.7 miles of the fiber backbone installed and 86 of those miles are in service. Unless we encounter additional problems, the project should meet the completion target of Sept. 1.
We are very optimistic that we will install a few miles more than the original design plan of 115 miles and reach the goal of fiber availability to 85 percent of the addresses in Harrison County. As engineered today, fiber will reach 81 percent of those 18,178 addresses. Mainstream Fiber Networks (MFN) has committed to installing to anyone within one mile of the backbone and has installed 112 miles toward that commitment.
We know there are areas we cannot reach under the current budget. I hope everyone understands we cannot just “drop” fiber service into your home.
Think of fiber like a water line. There must be a water source and lines must be run to each end user. When the backbone is complete and MFN has had some time to install customers, the project will be evaluated to see if expanding service is feasible, but that will depend very heavily on how many customers sign up for service.
We very much wanted to reach into Laconia because of the number of surveys from the area, but as of this date, we spent about $415,000 to reach Laconia and only four households in that area have signed up for service. HCCF will only spend additional funds for expansion into areas if people buy the service.
I also want to share that obtaining easements has caused some delays and additional expense. A prohibition from the Indiana Department of Transportation to use the Hwy. 135 right of way south of Corydon caused drastic changes to the original design. This became beneficial to some, but forced us to bypass other potential customer service areas.
MFN continues to explore the best way to reach the most people. It only takes one landowner in a critical area to consume thousands of dollars in re-engineering, added equipment, and installation costs. A few troublesome easement issues have likely prevented us from serving dozens more of our residents who desperately want or need fiber internet.
If you live in an area where fiber internet from MFN is currently not planned, I urge you – and your neighbors – to take MFN’s survey at msfiber.net. This is the best way to show us where the customers are and MFN engineers use this information to design expansion.
I also recommend you sign up for service if you know fiber internet from MFN is available in your area. The installers are working in the concentration where the most signed-up customers are located and when the installers are done in that area, they will move on to the next concentration. Watch for notices or special offers from MFN as they target various areas.
For questions or additional information on Mainstream Fiber Networks’ services, please stop by their Corydon office at 2370 Landmark Way NE (next to Pizza King) or call 844-752-6736.