VANDERBURGH COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) More southwest Indiana homes and businesses in rural Vanderburgh county have fiber internet access.

AT&T says the first homes promised a part of its new fiber network have it. That network will reach more than 20,000 homes and businesses around the county. 

“We do a lot of events outside, so we have food truck events, a lot of family events, weddings, company parties,” said Stephanie Peckenpaugh. She and her husband, Aaron, say high speed broadband internet is needed for those events to run smoothly.

“We’ve talked about doing outdoor movies, and such like that. We need, if we’re doing it over Wi-Fi, we’ve had an issue keeping it out here,” Aaron explained.

Their business was one of the first to connect to the new AT&T fiber network going up in rural Vanderburgh county. CEO John Stankey says 2,000 of the 20,000 businesses, homes and other places are already connected. A third of homes, farms and businesses didn’t have fixed broadband before work started.

“We didn’t have the right policy to get the last 20% of Americans, either because networks weren’t built in the right place, or it wasn’t affordable. Now, after the passage of the Infrastructure act from the Biden administration, we finally have a place and all the building blocks that can allow us to solve that problem,” he said.

“We are in a position that I hope we capitalize on to truly make the best use of fiber internet for coming generations,” added Cheryl Musgrave, Vanderburgh Co. Commissioner.

The 3$9 million dollar project is part of a public-private partnership, with the company covering three quarters of the cost. It happens as Spectrum announced plans to expand broadband to Posey and Gibson counties. The Peckenpaughs hope the fiber network speeds up their business growth.

“I just hope it’s running smoothly, and everybody’s super connected out here, and we can continue expanding our business,” Stephanie says.

AT&T officials say they are still working with the cities of Boonville and Martinsville, Indiana to get similar fiber networks to those communities.