INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana leaders say $189 million in grant funding is going out to communities across the state to improve broadband access.
According to the governor’s office, this round of grants under the Next Level Broadband Grant Program will connect nearly 53,000 homes and businesses to broadband.
Still, some Hoosiers aren’t hooked up to high-speed internet.
“It’s 2022, right? You just sort of think everybody has access to good high-speed internet,” said Michael Nance, a Boone County resident, during a Zoom interview Thursday.
For Nance, Zoom calls are easier at his office in Lebanon compared to his home less than three miles north of town.
For internet access, his family relies on smartphones and satellite internet, which Nance said doesn’t provide a high-speed connection.
“It won’t support streaming,” Nance said. “My son tries to play some video games online – it won’t support that.”
As part of this latest round of grants, Boone County received nearly $2 million from the state, which will connect about 1,000 more homes and businesses to internet access in some rural areas, according to Commissioner Tom Santelli.
But that only accounts for about 20% of Boone County’s current need, Santelli said.
“As a county, we’ve grown from 32,000 in 1992 now to over 70,000,” he said.
To cover the cost of this most recent round of grants, the state allocated federal funding it received from the American Rescue Plan. More federal funding is on the way to help with those efforts due to the federal infrastructure law.
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said she believes it’s also going to require Indiana lawmakers to allocate additional state dollars to get all Hoosiers connected.
“In the last budget session in ’21, there were 18 bills dealing with broadband expansion that were introduced,” Crouch said. “And I think that indicates how supportive and what a priority broadband is to the General Assembly.”
State officials will get a better sense of which areas are lacking internet access when the federal government releases new data later this year, Crouch said.
Any Hoosier who doesn’t have high-speed internet at their home or business is urged to report that to the state. You can call the Indiana Broadband Connect Center at 833-639-8522 or fill out a form online.