November 26, 2022

New internet provider making progress

Infrastructure for Union County’s newest internet provider is being constructed as the hope is Lockridge Network will be in use in Union County in early 2023.

Approved last year by Union County Board of Supervisors, the county agreed to spend $145,988 of its American Rescue funds to improve internet service in underserved parts of the county, mainly in the rural areas. The funding was from the federal government given to local governments to make up for revenue lost because of COVID. Union County was awarded $2.3 million.

Lockridge Networks is a provider based in Seymour and covers a portion of south-central Iowa and a small overlap into Missouri.

“We are building out,” said Caleb Housh, vice president of Lockridge. “We just put up a tower at Sun Valley.” Sun Valley is a residential subdivision in rural Ringgold County.

Housh said he is not exactly sure when service will start in Union County but plans for additional towers in the service area are scheduled. Housh expects a service tower to be installed on the courthouse. Part of the plan from the county is to switch its internet provider to Lockridge.

Improving internet service in needed areas of the county has been a long discussed issue according to former Union County Development Association Executive Director Wayne Pantini. Some rural areas of the county have difficulty with a reliable connection.

When COVID intensified across the country in 2020 and sent kids and employees home, internet service became more important.

“Once the pandemic hit, it really exploded,” Pantini told the Union County Board of Supervisors a year ago.

Ringgold County had already established Lockridge services. Wayne, Appanoose, Lucas and Monroe are other Iowa counties served by Lockridge.

Lockridge’s operation is considered line of sight or fixed wireless. Instead of using underground cables delivering the signal, towers broadcast the internet signal through the air to customers. Many towers are set up in rural towns and cities to provide a maximum coverage.

The tallest tower Lockridge expects to use is 130 feet. It is common to have infrastructure attached to city water towers and certain grain silos.

In addition to the equipment, Lockridge will hire a technician to monitor the equipment. Housh said supply chain issues had slowed the installation of items but suppliers have shown improvement.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.