Maplenet considers service in Churubusco

October 19th, 2018

By Nicole Minier | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

A northeast Indiana company may be the answer to Churubusco’s internet woes.

“As you all know, internet service in Churubusco has not been the best — same as other places in the county,” Whitley County Economic Development Corp. President Jon Myers told the Churubusco Town Council earlier this month. “We’re looking at possible options — companies that might be willing to provide services or at least compete with the incumbents to provide better service at a better price.

“Internet is a new utility. It’s not just water, sewer and electric anymore.”

The county recently entered into a contract with another internet service provider to improve internet in the industrial areas along U.S. 30.

Elkhart-based Maplenet representatives Steve Carender and Ryan Coates also attended the council’s meeting earlier this month to explain how their company could benefit local residents.

Maplenet uses both fiber optics and 5G wireless internet to provide services to small towns and rural communities that have poor internet service.

“This is a good opportunity for us to team up with you and try to solve some of these internet service problems,” Coates said.

Maplenet works together with government and business leaders to provide customized service plans for each community.

“Instead of trying to do something on the cheap, we want to do something that’s right,” Coates said.

When it comes to attracting and retaining young families, having solid internet service is essential.

“It looks to us like the future is really bright for Churubusco,” Coates said. “There’s new construction coming and people from Fort Wayne who want to send their kids to a small school are starting to move out this way. The demand for internet service is going to keep going up.”

Maplenet may be able to tap into the school district’s fiber line and distribute the service throughout the community. First, businesses and high density areas would be the priority, and 5G wireless towers can be triangulated over the town to offer service to other residents.

“Fiber will always be the fastest solution out there, but the 5G wireless is amazing,” Coates said.

Rather than waiting for the infrastructure to be built out, 5G can provide immediate service in a cost-effective way, keeping rates lower.

Additionally, Maplenet may be able to tap into state and federal grants to assist in infrastructure costs. In some area towns, residents and businesses have made donations. Any assistance in the initial costs helps keep rates down.

Coates made it clear that Maplenet is not looking to provide another internet option, but to provide a “significant improvement” to the current services.

“We’re not looking to make what you have a little bit better, we’re looking to take Churubusco and put it on the front edge of what’s available,” Coates said.

The council was supportive of Maplenet’s business plans.

“How close are we to a decision?” Councilman Mark Pepple asked.

Coates indicated if all goes well, Maplenet could begin as soon as the first of the year. The biggest constraint is the availability of fiber crews to build the infrastructure, which would be underground. The 5G towers could potentially be placed at the water tower, fire station, grain elevator or another location on town property.

After going to work in a town, Maplenet is usually able to begin connecting homes to internet service within a couple months.

“That’s exciting news. We’re excited — I’ll give you my address,” Pepple said.

In addition to benefits for residents, businesses can utilize a private, regional network that runs all the way to the Chicago area.

“You could have connections between here and Illinois and not hit the internet proper the whole way,” Carender said.