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Lieutenant Governor Previews Broadband Access Grant Program

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Business, Government, Local News, Technology
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (center) previewed the announcement to the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. (Photo: Stephanie Wiechmann)

Indiana’s lieutenant governor says the state will announce details of a grant program this week that will give broadband providers money to expand Internet service into more rural areas.  As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, the state is funding the effort with proceeds from the renegotiated Indiana Toll Road agreement.

Broad strokes of the state’s $100 million broadband access grant program were announced last September as part of Governor Eric Holcomb’s infrastructure agenda.  Now, in a speech in Muncie on Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch previewed a Thursday announcement of the details of that plan.

She says broadband providers can receive up to $5 million in grant money to run broadband services to “unserved areas” if they provide at least a 20 percent match for the grant.

Crouch says by assisting with broadband expansion costs while also requiring matching funds, it should make expansion more appealing to companies.

“That’s one of the arguments that providers will make why they don’t expand into areas.  Because they will claim that it’ll take them maybe 10-15 years to recoup their investment.”

Read More: State Establishes Broadband Expansion Director To Focus On Rural Communities

State officials have heavily quoted from a Purdue University study that found providing broadband to more rural areas could net Indiana $12 billion in economic impact over 20 years.

Crouch says Indiana will release application details for the grants on Thursday.

Correction: A previous version of this story said the provider grants are for “underserved” areas.  The state now says this program is for “unserved” areas – those with no broadband service at all.