“To develop and implement a premier, local-owned fiber optic network in Northeast Indiana that will provide secure, affordable, maximum speed broadband services while returning financial resources for community grant-making.”
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, rural communities like Angola, Fremont, Orland, Ashley/Hudson, and Hamilton were being left behind by commercial data providers like AT&T, GTE, and Verizon. So, a group of local community leaders came together to pursue a community-owned fiber optic network solution for Northeast Indiana. Out of this, the Indiana Metropolitan Area Network, or iMAN, was born to support the data needs of Steuben County.
For iMAN to be operational, however, a business plan needed to be in place, a plan to solve the critical economic development obstacle of the lack of affordable, high-speed data access. After discussion, the final plan offered the iMAN fiber optic network as the solution to meet the business demand for high-speed data transfer. With the iMAN connection, businesses, government, education, and healthcare in Northeast Indiana could have a faster, more affordable means of connecting facilities to the internet.
Unique to this plan was the partnership with the Steuben County Community Foundation. Through this philanthropic component of the fiber network, proceeds would be used to deploy and develop the fiber optic infrastructure and also give revenue back to the community through grants by SCCF.
In October 2020, the Steuben County Community Foundation signed an asset purchase agreement with Steuben County REMC to transfer ownership of this essential communications infrastructure. Effective on January 1, 2021, this transition is part of a larger project to expand broadband in Steuben County.