The Town of
Chesterton’s new fiber optic communications and data network is open for
business, with a ribbon-cutting last week in Thomas Centennial Park to
celebrate the achievement.
construction of the 15.5 -mile high-speed fiber-optic broadband network is
done-- additional laterals, fiber ring redundancy, and final testing will be
completed later in the year--and the Chesterton Fiber Optic Network (CFON)
is now active. More than 44 businesses have already signed as founding
customers with the network’s contracted operator, Northwest Indiana
Telephone Company (NITCO).
In 2017 the town
signed a 25-year operating agreement with NITCO to manage and operate the
network. Under that agreement local businesses may purchase NITCO services
such as Voice, Internet, TV, and Long Distance using the town-owned network.
Over 300 businesses in the town are within reach of the gigabit-capable
“NITCO shares the
vision with the town to improve the speed, efficiency, and reliability of
Chesterton’s communications infrastructure,” the company said in a statement
released last week. “CFON will create economic development leading to job
creation and growth as well as contributing to the quality of life in the
town. The backbone of CFON includes two 144-strand single mode fiber optic
loops which includes the business areas of the town’s TIF District.
Chesterton’s network is impressive in that it is a hybrid of both Lit and
Dark fibers, giving the town flexibility in working with NITCO as operator
and providing services to the business community that previously were
“The town is very
proud of the new Chesterton Fiber Network,” Redevelopment Commission Chair
Jeff Trout said. “The opportunities for local businesses and the economic
development potential created with this advanced technology fiber has raised
the bar. Chesterton now ranks as the best place for business to locate in
northwest Indiana! We have the quality of life and now the infrastructure to
keep local business and attract new business.”
NITCO President Tom
Long agreed. “No matter how great our accomplishments have been in the past,
you can never rest on your laurels,” Long said. “A community has to
continually reinvent itself as time marches on, and Chesterton has done just
that. Think of high-speed Internet as the electricity of the 21st century.
Just as electricity drove economic development in the 20th century, so too
does high-speed Internet today.”
“NITCO is from the
region,” Long added. “We are local. All of our employees and customers are
in Northwest Indiana. We have deep roots here in NWI giving us a more
responsive connection to the communities we serve. For 80 years NITCO has
worked with municipal, business and residential customers to provide the
best in telecommunications services and that commitment will continue in
Chesterton thanks to its new fiber network.”
NITCO will begin
offering services to business, education, commercial, and medical customers
Details from the
town’s operating agreement with NITCO subsidiary FBN Indiana, which will
serve as the network’s operator for an initial term of 25 years, with two
renewable periods of 10 years each:
* The town is
responsible for the cost of constructing the network’s initial fiber-optic
backbone and will own the infrastructure itself. Construction costs to date,
including change orders: $1,508,140.45, or 22 percent over the original
contract price of $1,233,673.91. The construction contract was awarded in
October 2017 to low bidder CSU Inc. of Plainfield, Ind. The town is using
tax increment financing moneys to fund the project.
* FBN Indiana is
responsible for the cost of installing all lateral legs to reach customers.
Any lateral built within the Town of Chesterton will become municipal
* FBN Indiana is
responsible for maintaining, repairing, and upgrading the network.
* FBN Indiana is
responsible for all marketing, technical support, operations, billing, and
collection, and any bad debts will be that firm’s sole responsibility and
* FBN Indiana must
pay the town a percent of the gross revenue each quarter: 7.5 percent of
non-residential services over the first 25 years; 3.75 percent of
residential services; and 7.5 percent of recurring fees paid by other
* FBN Indiana was
required to pre-pay and reimburse the town for all charges owed to Spread
Networks for access to the latter’s New York/Chicago line. The cost of
connecting to that line: a $60,000 up-front fee, plus a $5,500 monthly
charge, the latter increasing by 3 percent each year.
* FBN Indiana
assumes all costs associated with access to the Spread Networks line.