Bringing broadband to rural Indiana

Posted by: Courtney Scott  | Friday, April 24, 2015

As session comes to a close, there is still much to do in a very short amount of time. In fact, after months of careful discussion, we are still working to put the finishing touches on the state’s biennial budget in order to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of Hoosiers.

Although much is still left to do, there has already been a great deal accomplished and multiple bills signed into law. Some of these new laws will benefit Hoosiers across the state while others might impact a certain county or specific area. One of these new laws, House Enrolled Act 1101, will have a positive impact in our local communities by promoting investment in wireless communication.

This new law establishes a center within the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, known as the Broadband Ready Communities Development Center, to facilitate certain communications projects. Once a local unit of government establishes a procedure to review applications and issue permits for the communications projects, the center will be able to designate them as a broadband ready community.

The procedure must include the following items: a single point of contact for all matters related to a project, a guarantee that all applications will be reviewed and either approved or rejected within 10 business days, an assurance that all inspections will occur in a timely manner and an authorization for all forms, applications and documentation to be filed and signed by electronic means.

The idea for this law came out of the Lieutenant Governor’s Rural Broadband Working Group, which was tasked with the important job of finding ways to bring fast, reliable broadband to Indiana’s rural communities.

These rural areas often do not see the same expansion of broadband services that more developed areas experience due to financial, regulatory and process barriers. While being designated as broadband ready will not guarantee investment, it will provide a way for communities to voluntarily distinguish themselves and encourage economic growth by attracting broadband providers.

Fast, reliable internet access is absolutely critical to remaining competitive in today’s fast-paced world. Ultimately, if we hope to encourage economic development in rural Indiana, we must ensure that these communities have the necessary tools to support existing enterprises, create new business and educate Hoosier students. 

Our district is home to many communities that are great places to live, work and raise a family. In fact, at the beginning of the year, Boonville was named the ninth best city for young families in Indiana. However, if we want our area to continue to grow, broadband is consistently at the top of their wish list when businesses are looking to relocate or expand. I was proud to support this new law as it not only encourages economic development, but could also result in more jobs coming to our area of the state.