Recognizing Indiana’s Commitment to an Innovative Future

Bill Soards – President, AT&T Indiana
December 5, 2022
Broadband Access and Affordability

Recognizing Indiana’s Commitment to an Innovative Future

IN eventIndiana is the state where I grew up, went to college and started my career – first serving in local government and now working for AT&T. Each experience – though unique – has solidified my commitment to helping Indiana and its residents reach their full potential.

To reach that full potential, we have to recognize the reality of the world in front of us. All of us across Indiana have to embrace a vision in which every one of our neighbors, friends and family members can have the chance to innovate, grab hold of economic opportunities and access quality education. In today’s world, realizing those opportunities for Hoosiers means working hard to expand internet connection across the state.

When I had the honor of taking on the role of AT&T President of Indiana nine years ago, I was excited then – as I’m excited now – at the opportunity to help make this vision come to life for our great state.

IN discussionIn my discussions with state and local leaders, I am reminded that we share this common goal. Just yesterday, I had the great pleasure of attending an event showing that when communities and businesses work together, our shared commitment to bridging the digital divide can become a reality.

Joined by AT&T CEO John Stankey, our AT&T Indiana team, state government officials and residents, together we turned on AT&T Fiber service in parts of Vanderburgh County.

IN eventAt the event, we heard from residents, farmers and small business owners who talked about how fiber internet will change their daily lives. Parents are looking forward to seamlessly hopping on a videocall with their doctor when their kids aren’t feeling well. Business owners welcomed the prospect of being able to streamline processes and reach new customers with instant access to the internet. Families were excited they will now be able to play video games, post on social media and watch their shows at the same time.

It’s clear the impact of AT&T Fiber will be felt throughout the community – but it didn’t occur out of thin air. It took commitment, investment and collaboration between the private and public sectors to make this impact possible.

Vanderburgh County Commissioners Musgrave, Shoulders and Hatfield provided valuable local insights and their vision for best connecting their community to broadband. Once the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars came in, they didn’t waste time getting to work.

Vanderburgh County Commissioners have not been the only ones in Indiana eager to connect their communities to fiber.

Leaders across the state have created the ideal conditions for successful public-private collaborations. They made a point to create open and competitive processes for disbursing project funds – allowing for creative solutions to be deployed that are just right for each of their community’s needs.

Over the last few months, from our nearly $40 million collaboration to deliver AT&T Fiber to 20,000 residents and small businesses in Vanderburgh County, by announcing more broadband deployment projects amounting to over  $26 million in total spend and connecting another 16,250 Hoosiers to AT&T Fiber:

  • IN Next Level Connections: $13 million project connecting nearly 6,100 customer locations
  • Boonville, Indiana: $4.4 million to connect more than 4,000 customer locations
  • Martinsville, Indiana: $6.3 million project to deliver internet to over 5,000 customer locations
  • Delaware County, Indiana:  $2.3 million to connect some 1,250 customers

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s office took a big step towards advancing connectivity through the Indiana Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program. Working in lock step with the Governor’s office, we’re bringing fiber connectivity to parts of 9 different counties.

Also, in Boonville, Indiana, we heard from Mayor Charlie Wyatt, the City Council and the Board of Works to find the right solution for their community. The teamwork is resulting in more Hoosiers gaining access to the internet for work, education, telehealth and connecting with friends and family.

And in Martinsville, Indiana, we’re working together to help make Martinsville a 100% fiber optic city, built to deliver high-quality connectivity for residents and small businesses for years to come.

As someone whose passion is finding how public policy can work to enable technological advancement, the deployment of fiber technology is truly exciting – we are setting Indiana up with the connections they need to fully embrace the digital future ahead of us.

The bottom line: Thanks to the willingness and openness of local leaders to expand broadband, Indiana is leading the charge and serving as a model for other states and cities – highlighting how public-private projects can increase internet access in communities across the country.

And this is only the beginning. With ARP funds already available and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) dollars coming in, we at AT&T are ready to use our more than 140 years of operating experience to connect even more Hoosiers and Americans.

There is no need to wait – the time to act is now, and Indiana local leaders have set the bar high in their pursuit of a more connected and fruitful future for their residents.