A parent working with their child on e-learning
(PHOTO: WISH-TV)

Indiana Lawmakers Trying to Make Broadband Internet More Accessible in Rural Areas

STATEWIDE–Governor Holcomb has already sent out more than $79 million to 41 counties across Indiana as funding to be used for high-speed broadband internet. More money is supposed to be used too.

During Holcomb’s State of the State Address Tuesday, he announced that he is seeking an additional $100 million for his Next Level Broadband Grant Program.

“The additional $100 million I’m requesting will enable us to continue making progress, bringing improved speed to all corners of our state for all Hoosiers,” said Holcomb.

Representative Lehman represents District 79, which encompasses all of Adams County as well as portions of Allen and Wells counties. Lehman says his experience in rural areas has allowed him to see the need for broadband.

“I think what the pandemic has shed light on is there are still many parts of the state, my district included, where there are people going to the McDonald’s parking lot to get Internet service. That’s not really workable,” said Lehman.

Lehman calls broadband internet the “electricity of the 21st century.”

“I’m on board (with the Governor’s initiative). I like the start, but I really want to push a little harder and make sure we get this to a point where all Hoosiers have high-speed internet, especially in this age of virtual learning,” said Lehman.

The purpose of the program is to provide funds for the deployment of broadband infrastructure to provide eligible broadband service to end-users, which include households, businesses, and community anchor institutions, across Indiana.

State Senator Scott Baldwin (R-Noblesville) has written a bill that would create a tool to help communities invest in high-speed broadband projects. It would allow local governments to finance high-speed broadband infrastructure by leveraging anticipated service fee revenue that the project would generate.

“Internet service providers are not building additional facilities or infrastructure into certain areas because they can’t guarantee to their investors or their or their own corporation that there’ll be sufficient adoption against the cost that they would incur to build that infrastructure,” said Baldwin in an interview with Inside Indiana Business.

According to data from the Federal Communications Commission, more than 600,000 Hoosiers do not have access to adequate broadband service.

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