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Vanderburgh Industrial Park first in Indiana to earn “Fiber Ready” status

Vanderburgh Industrial Park first in Indiana to earn “Fiber Ready” status

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By Susan Orr of the Courier and Press

Updated: Yesterday 3:49 p.m.

Local business and government leaders are hoping that a new fiber-optics program with AT&T will help attract tenants to the Vanderburgh Industrial Park.

AT&T Indiana is rolling out a new certification program called Fiber Ready, and the Vanderburgh Industrial Park is the first in the state to achieve this status.

The park is on Indiana 57 in Northern Vanderburgh County, just north of Shoe Carnival's distribution center.

The Fiber Ready program is a high-tech version of the "shovel-ready" certifications that tell potential investors a site is prepped and ready for development. AT&T's Fiber Ready designation signifies that a site is equipped with fiber-optic cable infrastructure to meet a customer's high-speed data needs, said Bill Soards, president of AT&T Indiana.

"More and more businesses are asking about connectivity," Soards said at a news conference Monday.

"Speed is a competitive advantage, and that's the message that we're trying to get out here."

The park, owned and operated by the Evansville Industrial Foundation, occupies just over 200 acres and currently houses nine tenants. A total of six lots, including one that houses a 100,000-square foot spec building, are unoccupied.

Greg Folz, an associate broker with Woodward Commercial Realty, handles real estate matters for the industrial park.

Folz said the Fiber Ready designation should help attract interest in the park — and not just among high-tech companies.

"These days, manufacturers are looking for the fiber-ready designation," Folz said.

Manufacturing engineers, for instance, often have a need to share information electronically, using a high-speed connection to do so.

Though the park's Fiber Ready status is new, the actual cable infrastructure is not. Vanderburgh Industrial Park installed the underground cables along its loop drive some time ago.

Soards said fiber-optic cables are considered desirable because they can carry information faster than copper lines can.

And it's the physical cables themselves, Soards said, that are at the heart of wireless communications.

Any kind of wireless service, be it a cellphone or a Wi-Fi connection, goes through an antenna somewhere, Soards said. And all of those antennas are connected to cable lines.

"The network itself is a very fiber-rich network," Soards said.

Over the past three years, Soards said, AT&T has invested almost $2 billion in Indiana. Most of that investment has been in fiber-optics and wireless infrastructure.