High Speed Solution: Whitley County Commissioners pass broadband internet plan, moves to county council

High Speed Solution
High Speed Solution(WPTA)
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Whitley County Commissioners met Monday afternoon to discuss funding a fiber internet infrastructure plan for the residents in rural areas seeking better internet speeds.

CEO of Surf Internet, Gene Cruise, gave a presentation at the meeting detailing the need for high speed internet in the area. He says many people need it to work from home, communicate with their loved ones, or just live regular lives. He says more than 300 people in Whitely County responded to a survey stating their internet needs improvement and they would support their plan.

Cruise says the investment is expensive and they’re proposal has changed significantly from the initial plan.

Surf believes they can apply and win the Federal Middle Mile Grant for $5.2 million dollars. They’ve (Surf Internet) also increased their proposed investment to $3.3 million dollars. They are still asking the county for $1.7 million in ARPA dollars. They claim there is virtually no chance of winning federal or state grants without a local match/support. All in all, they would have $10.5 million dollars.

The project promises 195 miles of fiber internet infrastructure built across Whitley County. It would connect 9,500 households, which is 70% of Whitley County, by 2026. The federal grant wouldn’t be awarded until March of next year, however they say they would begin engineering for the project as soon as they received Whitley County’s money.

Sarah Haag is a resident in Whitely County. She says she’s been trying to get support for the project. Haag works from home and she says the lack of internet has devastated her career.

“I took a part time job last week to make up for it, and guess what they’re also having internet issues,” Haag said.

The county commissioners passed the plan with a 2-1 vote. County Council will take their vote Wednesday morning at 8a.m.

We will have a crew there providing updates.