Bartels: Local broadband efforts are paying off

Friday, August 23, 2019

Many take for granted the ease with which they are able to connect to the internet. Much of our day is spent online, from contacting friends and family to studying for school and shopping for groceries, the internet is an essential part of life. Despite the role internet plays in our lives, many rural parts of our state, including right here in our community, do not have quality internet access. Thanks to a new initiative, that could soon change.

Current planned projects could increase broadband access to over 3,500 unserved households and businesses in Perry and Spencer counties.

Recently, I joined Gov. Eric Holcomb in St. Meinrad to announce $22.1 million in funding for broadband expansion projects across the state as a part of the state’s Next Level Broadband program. This is the single largest state investment in broadband in Indiana’s history.

The funding was included in the state’s budget, which I supported this legislative session, and I have been an active voice in pushing to expand broadband in our community. Expanding broadband access and ensuring that all Hoosiers have access to affordable, high-speed internet will provide new opportunities and grow our towns and businesses.

Unserved areas are those without at least one telecommunication provider offering internet fast enough to provide the most basic services – at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

In addition to the $22.1 million awarded through Next Level Broadband, seven telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives contributed $14 million in matching funds, resulting in a $36.1 million total investment. For the initial round of funding, service providers could apply for up to $5 million per project to expand service to unserved areas if they provided at least a 20 percent match.

No matter where we live or work, internet is a valuable tool to strengthen connectivity and open new doors. I am pleased to work with the Holcomb Administration to expand broadband access, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact this development will have on our area.

Please contact me with questions or send suggestions at h74@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9802 for other ways to improve internet access.

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State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74, which
includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.

 

Photo Caption: State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) (third from right) joins Gov. Eric Holcomb (right)  to announce more than $22 million in funding for broadband expansion projects around the state Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, in St. Meinrad. The initiative could provide internet access to over 3,500 unserved households and businesses in Perry and Spencer counties.