As soon as next week (Oct. 4, 2022), residents of the area south of Indiana University’s campus could start seeing new crews working in Bloomington’s public right-of-way to install fiber optic connections.
At its regular meeting on Tuesday this week, the city’s board of public works is set to approve a request from AEG (Atlantic Engineering Group) to work in the public right-of-way installing high-speed internet fiber underground as well as between utility poles.
AEG will be working for Hoosier Networks, the company formed by Paris-based Meridiam to do business locally. When construction is complete, the network is supposed to provide 1-Gigabit service to at least 85 percent of Bloomington.
Other providers have previously been granted access to work in Bloomington’s public right of way to install broadband connections.
Under terms of the deal between Bloomington and Meridiam, for the first five years just one internet service provider (ISP) will have access to the network. That period could be extended to seven years.
GigabitNow was announced a couple of weeks ago as the ISP with initial exclusive access. After the initial exclusivity period, the infrastructure is supposed to become an open access network.
The initial area where the Meridiam fiber network is supposed to start construction next week is bounded by 3rd streets and 1st streets on the north and south. It’s bounded by Swain and Park avenues on the east and west.
Three or four teams will be doing the work for the initial installation area, which is expected to be complete within 30 days, according to a staff memo to the board from Bloomington engineering field specialist Paul Kehrberg.
The scope of the overall project is much bigger than the initial work south of IU campus. Under terms of the deal, it has to reach at least 85 percent of Bloomington.
Under the master development agreement between Bloomington and Meridiam, Meridiam has to offer symmetric 250-Megabit service to low-income residents at zero net cost.
Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) also approved an arrangement that reimburses to Meridiam, over a 20-year period, 95 percent of the roughly $10.9 million in personal property taxes on conduit and fiber, which Meridiam will pay during that time. The legal tool that is to be used is a tax increment finance (TIF) area.
Hoosier Networks will also get access to roughly 17 miles of unused conduit, known as the Bloomington Digital Underground, in connection with building and operating its network.