Surf Internet Expands Fiber In Partnership With Newton County, Indiana

The company will contribute $6.6 million to the new endeavor.

Surf Internet Expands Fiber In Partnership With Newton County, Indiana
Photo of Newton County, Indiana

July 3, 2024 – Surf Internet and Newton County, Indiana say they’re expanding a public private partnership that will extend gigabit fiber access to 97 percent of the county – or roughly 3,839 Newton County households by the end of this year.

According to a joint announcement, Surf will contribute $6.6 million to the new endeavor, with the Newton County Economic Development Commission contributing $4 million. The expansion should extend the gigabit network to Lake Township, Lake Village, Roselawn, Thayer and several additional rural areas.

Surf Internet also provides access in Michigan and Illinois. The ISP’s service speeds and pricing can vary greatly by market, but range from symmetrical 50 megabit per second (Mbps) service for $35 a month, to symmetrical 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) service for anywhere from $70 to $80 per month, with no caps, hidden fees, or long-term contracts.

Surf Internet first came to Newton County in 2020, when it launched a $1.7 million project– funded by the FCC E-Rate program – that brought fiber connections to the North Newton School District. In 2023, Surf Internet expanded that fiber network to 382 Newton County homes as part of Indiana’s $81 million Next Level Connections (NLC) Broadband Grant Program.

“The impact of Surf’s Newton County project is a critical element in offering a great quality of life for all of Newton County,” Newton County Economic Development Director Tim Myers says of the partnership. “It is not only instrumental in attracting and sustaining business, but it helps us attract additional residents by providing them the ability to work from home. It offers our students improved e-learning capabilities. It opens the possibility of accessing telemedicine options while enhancing manufacturing, retail, and agri-business opportunities.”

As ISLR has explored, PPPs can prove beneficial for communities worried about the logistical and financial challenges of expanding affordable fiber, but can often result in less long-term control over network trajectory or service pricing. But in many parts of more rural America, PPPs may ultimately prove to be the only alternative to monopoly-driven market failure.

For many municipalities in Newton County, Indiana (like Lake Village), the only broadband available comes from Mediacom (XTream), whose monopoly over faster broadband access ensures it doesn’t have to try to compete on coverage, price, speed, or customer service.

Surf Internet’s expansion should quickly change that narrative. In addition to this latest expansion, the ISP says it’s simultaneously applying for $3.9 million in additional state funding through Indiana NLC Round 4 which, if approved, should extend the total number of fiber-serviced locations in Newton County to “nearly 100%.”

This article was originally posted by Community Broadband Networks Initiative Institute for Local Self Reliance on July 1, 2024, and is reprinted with permission.

Popular Tags