Indiana ISPs, co-ops band together to offer statewide middle mile fiber

Local telecoms and cooperatives continued to organize this week to improve connectivity in their states, with Indiana becoming the latest hub of activity. A group of 17 internet service providers and cooperatives formed Hoosier Net, a consortium which aims to leverage members’ fiber assets to offer statewide middle mile infrastructure.

Indiana previously had a statewide fiber provider called Intelligent Fiber Network which boasted more than 5,000 route miles of infrastructure. However, that company was acquired by Zayo Group last year.

Hoosier Net plans to offer a range of services, including Ethernet transport from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, direct internet access up to 10G, dark fiber, 10G or 100G wavelength services and cell site backhaul. Services will be offered to its owner-members, telecommunications providers and direct commercial clients including hospitals, schools and government institutions.

John Greene, Hoosier Net chairman and CEO of New Lisbon Telephone Company, said in a statement "Hoosier Net and current owner-member fiber systems span thousands of miles across Indiana and are well-positioned to enable the expansion and extension of Indiana middle mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting unserved and underserved areas.”

But the group is also looking to make connections outside of Indiana as well. One of its founding members is Independents Fiber Network, a subsidiary of Ohio-based Com Net, Inc (CNI) which was established in 2003 to help provide backhaul to rural and underserved communities in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. CNI CEO Rob Shema has been tapped to lead Hoosier Net.

“Being in Western Ohio, we see the need to reach beyond state lines and develop a regional network to support educational institutions, businesses, and surrounding communities, all of which will benefit from Hoosier Net's increased speed, bandwidth, and reduced latency,” Shema stated.

The consortium is also teaming up with INDATEL, a national member-owned fiber transport network comprised of 400,000 miles of fiber and over 1,100 nationwide PoPs. Its membership includes more than 700 rural exchange carriers. And just like Hoosier Net is planning to do, INDATEL offers Ethernet, dedicated internet access and wavelength services.

Formation of the new group in Indiana comes just after 13 electric cooperatives in Arkansas banded together to form a wholesale middle mile fiber provider called Diamond State Networks. In an interview with Fierce, Diamond State Project Manager Doug Maglothin said it was working with a number of other states on the formation of similar groups.

Its birth also comes as states gear up to distribute billions in government funding for broadband, including $42.5 billion from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and another $1 billion from a middle mile grant program. Indiana is one of more than 30 states which have said they plan to participate in the BEAD program.