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Facebook has expanded the reach of broadband in the state of Indiana by completing the building of 77 miles of fiber optic cable for its datacenters in the state. That work has the spinoff benefit of improving the speeds for broadband service for consumers in the state. In turn, that improved network infrastructure will lead to better remote learning, telehealth, online games, and internet surfing for Hoosiers.

In a blog post, Facebook’s Boh DuPree and Michele Kohler said that the company has to build redundant, long-haul fiber networks to connect its datacenters. To keep service stable, Facebook needs more than one route to connect its datacenters and keep them up during storms, blackouts, or other outages. It so happens that this redundancy helps with the company’s stated mission of bringing people closer together.

The 77 miles of fiber runs from Interstate Highway 70 at the Indiana/Ohio border through Marion, Hancock, Henry, and Wayne Counties to downtown Indianapolis. This build will connect datacenters in Iowa and Nebraska to the East Coast cluster in Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina. A second phase of this build — with Zayo, a communications infrastructure provider — will provide an 85-mile fiber route to head west from Indianapolis through Vigo, Clay, Putnam, Hendricks, and Marion Counties.

Above: Facebook’s fiber will enable faster broadband access in Indiana.

Image Credit: Facebook

By the end of 2021, when both phases are complete, Indiana will have a fiber route that spans the state from east to west. This new route will provide important infrastructure for the state and surrounding region, aiming to boost economic growth, opportunity, and job creation.

“Building infrastructure that brings everyone closer together and connects us to what matters most — that’s what we do at Facebook,” wrote Kohler, business development manager for network investment at Facebook. “From education and remote learning, to health care, agriculture, e-commerce, and small businesses — it is clear that infrastructure investments create more than just a connection to the internet; they create opportunities for people to connect to the rest of the world.”

Facebook will allow third parties, including local and regional providers, to purchase excess capacity on the fiber. This capacity could provide additional network infrastructure to existing and emerging broadband providers, helping them extend middle-mile networks to many parts of the country, particularly in underserved rural areas near fiber backbones.

In its most recent Statewide Strategic Broadband Plan, Indiana officials cited a Purdue University study that forecast $12 billion in net benefits to Indiana over the next 20 years from quality broadband expansion in rural areas.

“Internet connectivity is extremely important, especially in rural Indiana because it affects education, our agriculture community, our business community and manufacturing,” said Jon Ford, Indiana state senator for District 38, in a video.

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