WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Tipmont got into the internet service provider business about five years ago to provide high-speed, fiber-optic connections to rural Indiana.
Wintek Powered by Tipmont celebrated Wednesday the completion of a project partially funded by a grant from Indiana’s Next Level Connections.
“We were awarded a grant for $413,000, and with that Tipmont put in another $1.6 million of our members’ money,” Tipmont Vice President of Engineering Jeremy Konkle said.
Wintek Powered by Tipmont connected the area funded by the grant in less than six months, and celebrated Wednesday at its Battle Ground offices with a symbolic ribbon cutting led by Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who did not offer any public comments during the celebration.
“Tipmont has been connecting rural Hoosiers with high-speed internet for almost two years now,” Konkle said before the ribbon cutting.
“Since we are an electric company, we have 1,800 miles of electric line, 52,000 poles in our system, and we utilized those poles to install this fiber,” Konkle said. “Tipmont already has … over 1,000 miles of fiber on our system to date, and we’re going to continue to keep putting that fiber out there to get to rural Indiana Hoosiers.”
Rob Ford, Wintek Powered by Tipmont communications director, said the effort to hook up rural Americans to high-speed internet is similar to the 1935 effort to connect rural Americans to electricity.
In 1935, only 10 percent of rural Americans had electricity. By 1950, 90 percent had it.
“Huge thanks to the state of Indiana for the leadership that they’ve shown in helping solve what really is a giant problem for not only tens of thousands of rural Hoosiers but tens of millions of Americans all over the country who are suffering from lack of good internet service,” Ford said.
To reach its goal of providing high-speed internet for all of its customers in Fountain, Montgomery and Tippecanoe counties, Tipmont had to invest its members’ money and buy an internet provider.
“We went out in January 2019, and we acquired Wintek Corp. in Lafayette,” Ford said.
“They had been running fiber lines for about 10 years in this area, but they just didn’t quite have the scope to complete their vision,” he said. “We had the scope; they had the knowledge, and we had the skill.”
Ford said the goal over the next few years is to build its fiber-optic system out to all Tipmont customers in Tippecanoe, Montgomery and Fountain counties.
The construction of the network continues, he said.
Ford cautioned that Tipmont is not in the cable television provider business. It provides three options for internet speeds and supplies the router for the house. From there, people may subscribe to a television streaming service or other services.
To find out internet subscription fees and speeds, as well as locations serviced by Tipmont, log onto join.wintek.com, Ford said.
Reach Ron Wilkins at 765-420-5231 or at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.
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