FORTVILLE – A Hancock County-based smart utility co-op plans to bring nearly 22 miles of fiber optic service to Fortville over the next few years.
NineStar Connect is behind the project, which will result in offering its high-speed fiber internet throughout the town.
Along with fiber, NineStar Connect also offers electric, water and sewer services throughout the region. The utility has over 20,000 customers and employs about 140.
George Plisinski, director of telecom operations for NineStar Connect, briefed officials on the plans at a Fortville Town Council meeting this week. He said the upcoming fiber initiative started about a year ago in meetings, during which the town was often referred to as an “island.”
“NineStar’s electric and communication utilities almost completely surround Fortville, and we only had small little routes and stuff into and serving some businesses,” Plisinski said.
He noted NineStar is the electric service provider for the new Northwest Fortville neighborhood in the town’s northwest corner.
“That really made it that much more apparent that we had an island out here that was the town of Fortville,” he said. “So we put together what we think is a well suited plan for overbuilding the entire town of Fortville and all its residents and offering them fiber-to-the-home services.”
NineStar Connect’s current fiber footprint in Fortville includes routes on Broadway and Staat Street, as well as in the Wyndstone neighborhood.
Later this year, the utility plans to build about 6 ¼ miles of underground fiber in the central part of town west of Madison Street past 480 homes. Construction is anticipated to start in early June and finish in late October.
Plisinski said residents and property owners will receive letters by June 2 outlining the process and providing contact information for potential issues arising from the construction.
“We’re probably going to make a little mess, but we want to clean up after ourselves,” he said.
In 2024, NineStar Connect plans to continue the fiber initiative with 5.7 miles past 550 homes, completing the old town part of Fortville.
In 2025, the utility will wrap up subdivisions on the edges of town with 10 miles of fiber past 525 homes.
Residents can enter their addresses at NineStar Connect’s website to find out what year fiber construction near their home is planned for.
David Spencer, director of marketing for NineStar Connect, said the utility is excited to come to Fortville, especially for the opportunities it will offer to students of the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation.
“Any Mt. Vernon student that lives in the NineStar Connect service territory will now have fiber optic connectivity,” he said.
The utility offers residential high-speed fiber internet at multiple speeds, starting with 100 megabits for $65.50 per month and capping at 10 gigabits for $897.50 per month.
Fortville Town Councilwoman Tonya Davis welcomed the development and the variety it will create for internet service consumers.
“We like choices,” she said. “Everybody wants a different choice.”