New Indiana program works to connect more homes, businesses to broadband

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – A new state program is working to get broadband service to more Hoosiers.

Under the Indiana Connectivity Program, state officials want to find more homes and businesses without high-speed internet access and connect them to broadband providers.

“We describe the need as dire and immediate,” said Rob Ford, communication director for Tipmont and Wintek, a provider that serves three counties in the Lafayette area.

That need has only grown during the pandemic, Ford said. And for some Hoosiers in remote areas, getting access can be especially challenging and costly.

“Sometimes there’s $40,000 or $50,000 of construction to get to that one resident,” said George Plisinski, director of telecom operations for NineStar Connect, a broadband provider in East Central Indiana. “It’s just not economically viable for either party at that point.”

It’s also difficult to identify all Hoosiers that need broadband access in the first place, Plisinski said.

The new Indiana Connectivity Program seeks to find more of those homes and businesses and help with construction costs.

“Now Hoosiers have an opportunity to tell us they’re not connected,” Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said.

The new program will allow Hoosiers to directly inform the state that their home or business lacks high-speed internet access, Lt. Gov. Crouch said. If they qualify, the state will connect that resident or business with a broadband provider and help fund the necessary work.

“Now because of COVID, Hoosiers are determining that they want to work from home and continue to work from home,” Crouch said. “Corporations are saying if we want to keep employees, we need to be flexible and allow them to do that if they want.”

Hoosiers can submit their information for the program on the Next Level Communications portal starting Monday, according to state officials.

Hoosiers can also call the Indiana Broadband Connect Center starting Monday at 833-639-8522.

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