The ZipSpider internet service provider purchased in May by Sweetwater founder and CEO Chuck Surack is combining with his Lakeland Internet to provide northern Indiana’s highest quality broadband.

Lakeland was founded by Surack in 2017 out of an interest in improving internet access for himself and others in Steuben County, where he had a lake home.

It announced June 5 that it had closed in mid-May on the purchase of the ZipSpider broadband provider serving eight counties in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan from an Angola headquarters.

Lakeland and ZipSpider continued running separately for several months after that purchase as the leadership team worked to align the companies operationally in order to make the most of a larger, converged network and ensure a great customer experience.

As of mid-November, their internet service covered a tri-state region from Angola to Montpelier, Ohio, to Sturgis, Michigan, according to an announcement on the integration of ZipSpider and Lakeland operations.

Lakeland was created to “accelerate your connected life,” the announcement said.

Synergies achieved through integrating operations of the companies contribute to ease of broadband access for Lakes region customers, it said, and help provide critical services requiring bandwidth, such as “access to streaming television content, remote alarm monitoring, and the ability to monitor and adjust home climate control settings remotely.”

A serious need for viable broadband has helped fuel rapid growth for the new company while driving its operational alignment, the announcement said.

“By combining the reach of Lakeland and ZipSpider, we continue to bring the latest and best technology to the region, allowing a previously underserved area the opportunity to effectively connect to our rapidly changing digital world,” Mark Byler, Lakeland’s general manager, said in the announcement.

More information on the service is available at

Ivy Tech, Lake City plan Loan-to-Own

Ivy Tech Warsaw plans to start a Laptop Loan-to-Own program next spring through a partnership with Lake City Bank, which has donated 10 Dell laptops to it that recently came out of service at the Warsaw-based bank.

The laptops will be cleaned and reimaged to prepare them for the program, then loaded with standard software that students use for Ivy Tech schoolwork, an announcement said.

“We are so grateful for Lake City Bank’s willingness to meet this need,” Allyn Decker, an Ivy Tech vice chancellor, said in the announcement.

“A growing number of students are coming to us without a laptop computer and as more and more coursework utilizes e-learning tools, we don’t want this to pose a barrier to student success.”

Students start with the program by checking out one of its laptops for two weeks. They can extend the loan for a semester if bimonthly security and maintenance checks show it has been maintained properly.

Students in good academic standing who have me those requirements and have enrolled for the next term’s classes may qualify before it starts to have ownership of the laptop transferred to them permanently. Lake City has committed to supply the program with additional laptops as needed.

“We are pleased to partner with Ivy Tech Warsaw in helping to meet the computing needs of students,” Chris Merrill, a Lakeland vice president and technology services manager, said in the announcement.

“It’s a win-win in that we don’t have to discard perfectly good equipment and Ivy Tech students don’t have to buy a laptop if funds are limited.”

In addition to its help with the laptop program, Lake City said it plans to pursue more Ivy Tech Warsaw computing and banking internships.

It hires college interns routinely and said it can provide great banking education and employment opportunities for those who are willing to learn and work in a highly regulated corporate environment.

“As a regional bank, Lake City is a perfect choice for a wide variety of students in northeast Indiana,” Christine Force, Ivy Tech internship coordinator, said in the announcement.

“We look forward to placing several students in internship and entry level positions in the near future.”

Ivy Tech’s Circle of Ivy, a women’s philanthropy organization, also has contributed $3,000 to Loan-to-Own. The money will offset some of the program’s power cord, software, laptop sleeve and storage cart costs.

I&M schedules area drone inspections

Indiana Michigan Power planned to use aerial drones for a mid-November inspection of transmission lines in Allen, DeKalb and Steuben, weather permitting.

The done inspection of the wires and poles used with transmission lines was to take place in Fort Wayne and southwest Allen County, from Butler to Hamilton, according to an I&M announcement.

High-resolution images the drones captured of I&M equipment were expected to help the region’s primary power supplier assess structure and line conditions to ensure the safe and reliable operation of its transmission system, it said.

I&M contracted with Asymmetric Technologies to manage the aerial inspections. It planned to use licensed operators to pilot the drones, following Federal Aviation Administration rules requiring them to maintain a constant line of sight to the drones.

AT&T, Purdue creating 5G test bed

AT&T is working with Purdue University’s College of Engineering to build a test bed for 5G-based research and development they plan to open as early as next spring at the Purdue Research Lab.

Operating in a newly launched Indiana 5G Zone, it will use AT&T’s 5G+ millimeter wave and commercially available Multi-access Edge Computing technologies to help solve problems such as rural disaster recovery and to explore new uses such as those envisioned for smart cities.

“This is a unique, open environment in the nation where innovators using 5G for consumer and industrial applications can test out their ideas,” Mung Chiang, dean of the college, said in an announcement.

“As a researcher in wireless networks and, for the past decade, in edge computing, I am also delighted to see the collaboration with AT&T to advance research in edge technologies as part of the zone.”

Once it opens, the lab plans to accelerate academic research already underway in 5G uses for smart cities, advanced manufacturing, rural broadband, Internet of Things projects and agricultural technology for disaster response.

“Bringing 5G and edge computing into a university lab creates an ideal environment for innovation,” Chris Penrose, AT&T Business senior vice president for Advanced Mobility and Enterprise Solutions, said in the announcement.

“These technologies have the potential to solve real problems and make meaningful impacts to the world around us. We look forward to seeing the exciting new ideas that emerge from Purdue’s early adoption and leadership in this space.”

The 5G zone is in the Indianapolis headquarters of the nonprofit Eleven Fifty Academy coding school.

Veteran reporter Doug LeDuc joined Business Weekly in 2006 and primarily covers banking and finance and technology. You can send information for his weekly column to or call 260-426-2640, ext. 3309.

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