NITCO INVISIBLY POWERS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN MUNICIPALITIES
By: Stacey Kellogg, nwi.life Last Updated: February 21, 2020
A powerful force is propelling economic development across the Region, and for the most part, it’s completely invisible.
It’s touching on nearly every aspect of what helps build strong communities: housing, small business, quality of life, commercial business, large industry, and municipalities, to name a few.
NITCO’s high-speed broadband Gigabit service in Northwest Indiana, made possible by building and expanding fiber optic and communication data networks, is paving the way for significant and healthy growth in both business-to-business and interpersonal communications.
“It’s all about reliability and customer service,” said Tom Carroll, Senior Vice President of Sales at NITCO. “The fiber optic product we are building is changing the communication landscape for the better in Northwest Indiana, and the relationships we have developed to keep the momentum going are just outstanding.”
Particularly as it relates to municipalities, NITCO now has operating agreements with the Town of Chesterton and the City of East Chicago to manage and operate their fiber optic networks, creating what Carroll said is the most reliable and efficient service available today.
“Our uptime is scary good,” he said. “The amount of downtime we might have is measured in mere minutes per year, so this is why municipalities, and now even developers who are building new subdivisions, want to work with NITCO to set their communities up for success.”
The fiber-optic networks in cities have improved communication among municipal services, too. Think high-speed service and access for the fire station, the pumping station at the water department, city hall, police department, and more.
Even more exciting - NITCO has figured out a way to save taxpayers money.
“The City of East Chicago owns its own fiber network. We partner with them to utilize any excess capacity so we can sell service to local businesses, schools and soon residents.” Carroll said. “But the more exciting part about this is that we’re also then expanding these networks for them, and giving them a revenue share to offset any tax dollars needed to own their own network. It’s just a win-win.”
Businesses who are looking to relocate to small and mid-sized cities are many times making fiber-optic networks one of their top requirements. Likewise, Carroll said, municipalities who have fiber networks have a better chance of retaining their longstanding, loyal businesses because they can now offer them access to superior communications options.
“It’s to the point now where I have developers coming to me before they even approach city and county planners because they want to be able to say they’ll offer their community residents fiber,” Carroll said. “We work with developers to plan for putting fiber in the ground at the same time they’re planning for water and sewer lines.”
NITCO is staying on the forefront of advocacy, legislation, and grant opportunities to continue to expand fiber networks across the Region, and into rural areas as well.
“The state realized that there is a huge need, and finally dedicated about $100 million in grants to build fiber networks in the most rural parts where the private sector cannot sustainably go alone,” he said. “It costs $50,000 a mile to build fiber infrastructure, so that’s $150,000 to build just three miles of network. In a rural area, that might reach one house. Even if you’re signing that one house up for internet and phone service, you can see how it would take a very long time to recover the cost of that capital investment. That’s where the grant money will come in.”
And NITCO intends to pursue grant opportunities at the state and federal level.
The Federal Communications Commission is about to launch a new program as well called the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which will put out $20.4 billion in two phases toward this effort.
“The internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity,” Carrol said. “Providing people with everything they need to succeed means that we succeeded as a company, and then individual families succeed, and then communities succeed, and so on. It’s a ripple effect.”
NITCO is a leader in high-speed broadband Gigabit service in Northwest Indiana. For over 20 years, NITCO has provided gigabit-capable fiber services to customers including Porter County Government, School corporations in Porter and Jasper County, and Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure. NITCO is currently designing and operating fiber networks for municipalities in northwest Indiana. With over 9,000 residential and 1,000 business customers NITCO is growing by making significant investments in infrastructure in Porter, Lake, Jasper, and Newton counties. For more information, visit nitco.com.