New Indiana Toll Road Fiber Optic Network Brings Faster Internet, Potential Economic Opportunities

Aug 5, 2021

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch speaks during an event promoting the new fiber optic network, which runs under the Indiana Toll Road from the Ohio border to downtown Chicago.
Credit Jakob Lazzaro / WVPE

Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch was in South Bend Thursday to promote a new fiber optic network installed along the Indiana Toll Road. 

The underground high-speed conduit runs from the Ohio border to downtown Chicago, and is a partnership between the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, Vivacity Networks and Digital Crossroad, which operates a data center on the Illinois border in Hammond, Indiana.

 

“We are so proud to be supportive of broadband efforts going on all over the state of Indiana,” Crouch said. “This revolutionary project will bring the world’s fastest fiber networks closer than ever to every community along the Indiana Toll Road.”

 

Vivacity designed, built and installed the fiber optic cable, which runs underground in the toll road’s right of way. Digital Crossroad built the connection from its data center in Hammond to 350 Cermak in Chicago, the largest data center in the Midwest. 

 

Almost all internet traffic from Michiana moves through that building, and traffic sent through the toll road fiber cable would have a very fast round trip ping of about 3.5 milliseconds.

 

“Everybody who wants to use this is going to basically be able to deliver speeds and deliver access at a level that wasn’t before available,” Digital Crossroad managing member Tom Dakich said.

 

So, does that mean your home internet will get faster? Maybe. 

 

Vivacity CEO Scott Bergs said the company is not an internet service provider. Instead, he said it builds infrastructure that service providers like Comcast or AT&T can use.

 

“We’re the plumbers of the internet,” Bergs said. “We’re simply putting in hoses that carry the bits and bytes back to a common location.”

 

And now that the fiber cable is here, he said ISPs can focus on upgrading local connections to tap into it.

 

“We’re providing a wholesale, open access, lower cost, already built, really route mile efficient dark fiber backbone,” Bergs said. “It can’t happen from one provider, it has to be us all working in collaboration and delivering this as efficiently as we possibly can, if we’re going to achieve the goal of better broadband for everyone.”

 

Bergs also said the new fiber optic network could lead to more economic opportunity locally through the construction of new data centers. 

 

Those facilities, he said, need redundant, sustainable, low-cost power, available land and core fiber connectivity. And with the new fiber network along the toll road, those three factors are now present in northern Indiana.

 

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels privatized the toll road in 2006 by selling a 75-year lease agreement. It is currently operated by the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, a subsidiary of Australian firm IFM Infestors.

 

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

 

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