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Governor Holcomb Pledges $100 Million For Broadband Internet For Entire State

The Next Level Broadband Initiative will look to expand access to viable Internet throughout the state will a key focus on rural areas.

STATEWIDE -- Broadband Internet access is sorely lacking in rural parts of Indiana. A new push from the Holcomb Administration looks to change that.

Citing a Purdue University study that said Indiana could gain billions of dollars from the full-deployment of broadband Internet in rural areas, Governor Holcomb is implementing the Next Level Broadband Initiative will dedicate $100 million to bring broadband service to the entire state.

"Folks from children to seniors, to businesses are struggling with this issue," said Indiana’s Director for Broadband Opportunities Scott Rudd, who has only been on the job for six months traveling around the state and getting a feel for what areas next broadband access the most.

"I live next to a public library," Rudd said to Inside Indiana Business. "Everyday when I'm going to work, I see people parked in their cars with the lights on on their phones or laptops. They're using a technology that they don't have access to at home and that might be due to a lack of affordability."

Rudd said the Next Level Broadband Initiative will be carried out in a partnership with INDOT and The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affair (OCRA). 

"We'll go to providers or folks who may want to provide service to these un-served areas," he added. "An un-served area is the definition of an area that does not have at least 10/1 Mbps speed."

Rudd said that this is a "local economic development issue" and that he is seeing many small community leaders getting together to help bring Internet access to their area. He said they have already had success in some initial pushes in rural parts of Brown and Crawford Counties.

A challenge he said will be low population density, adding that it's hard to justify broadband Internet service to places were there are only six people per square mile. Rudd hopes this new push will change that.

(PHOTO: Picture Alliance/Getty Images)

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