Indiana is giving out more grant money to fund rural broadband infrastructure. As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, the matching grants help telecommunications companies afford the large cost of laying new connections for rural homes.
In the second round of the Next Level Connections program that was first introduced in September 2018, $51 million will fund 50 projects.
“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.”
And the numbers agree. This round’s $51 million investment will connect just more than 10,000 homes statewide. In the IPR area, broadband infrastructure will be laid by several companies to connect a total of 76 homes and 10 businesses in Henry County and 115 households and 29 businesses in Grant County.
The state is funding the effort with proceeds from the renegotiated Indiana Toll Road agreement.
During the coronavirus pandemic, when many school districts are teaching all or partly online, a Ball State University study found that up to 84,000 school-age children in Indiana do not have internet access at home.