Indiana launches new program to address rural broadband issues

Sep 27, 2021

Indiana state officials launched the Indiana Connectivity Program to address rural broadband issues, from limited service to no service at all.
Credit Steve Burns / WTIU

Starting Monday, Hoosiers can apply to be considered for the latest state program designed to expand broadband access to residents and businesses.

Officials say the new Indiana Connectivity Program is different from previous ones trying to address the same issue.

The new program allows Hoosiers to report their internet speeds or lack of internet to the state. Those with broadband must have limited service speeds of no more than 25 Mbps to download and 3 Mbps to upload. 

Earlier this year, the Indiana Farm Bureau launched a broadband speed test that Hoosiers could take and help the organization collect data on internet service around the state.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said the information the farm bureau has gathered will be used in collaboration with what is collected by the state.

"What the Indiana Farm Bureau has done will be information we'll be able to utilize,” said Crouch. “But then with the Hoosiers calling in or going to the portal, it'll give ... even more information on where those gaps exist and where we need to expand broadband." 

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues.

Every three months the data collected will be used to determine areas around the state to allocate funds. Service providers will then be able to bid on those projects.

The state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs will manage the program and determine how to distribute the $270 million initially funded through the Indiana General Assembly.

Crouch said previous programs relied on providers to determine where to build, usually picking highly populated areas.

“This program actually allows Hoosiers to reach out and say, 'I don't have connection.' And then allows us to go to the providers and make that possible, without really looking at return on investment,” said Crouch.

Crouch said the second part of the program will be to address affordability of broadband.

Hoosiers can report their internet speeds online or by calling 833-639-8522.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.