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Johnson County invests $1 million in JCFiber broadband expansion
The Johnson County Commissioners have approved a $1 million investment in JCFiber’s broadband expansion into the county’s underserved areas.
JCFiber, a subsidiary of JCREMC, is a year and a half into a 4-year expansion aimed at closing the digital divide between rural and urban areas of the electric cooperative’s service territory. The funds, which come from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allotment, will be used to finish work in JCFiber’s previously announced Zones 2 and 3 on the western side of the county.
“This investment from and partnership with Johnson County allows us to confidently continue our momentum in expanding broadband access to local underserved residents,” said John Sturm, JCREMC CEO and JCFiber President. “It’s a great investment in the future of our county.”
In addition to the ARPA funding, JCFiber leadership continues to seek supplemental grants to help offset the extensive costs of building out rural broadband infrastructure.
Additional ARPA monies or grant funds open the door for improved pricing in the future, Sturm said.
“Affordability is at the top of our minds,” he added. “Our goal is to minimize monthly service prices rather than maximize profits. This is the same principle that parent-company JCREMC utilizes in providing electricity to its consumer-members. We appreciate our partnership with the county, and it certainly helps us meet our goals.”
JCFiber’s only changes in monthly service prices have been decreases. A recent change in terms also reduced the initial contract to 12 months. The company is also committed to participating in the Affordable Care Plan to offer discounted broadband internet to eligible customers.
Construction is complete in Zone 1, which is located on the west side of JCREMC’s service territory near Banta, Crooked Creek, and Paradise Lakes. All Zone 1 households are eligible to sign up for service. Zones 2 and 3 are slated for completion by the end of 2022. Many residents in Zone 2 are already eligible to sign up. All residents are notified when their subsection within a zone is ready for sign-ups.
Zone 2 is in the southwest corner of Johnson County covering most of Hensley Township and part of Nineveh Township, from Peoga Rd. to the Johnson/Morgan county line. Zone 3 closes the gap between zones 1 and 2 from State Road 44 north to County Road 300 N in Bargersville. It also includes an area north of Zone 1 near State Road 37 and State Road 144.
Planning is under way for the second half of the four-year expansion which addresses the central and eastern portions of the county. The second half will be divided into zones 4, 5, and 6. The next zone to begin construction will be announced this summer.
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