STATEHOUSE (April 25, 2019) – Legislation sponsored by State Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) to extend broadband to rural regions of the state could soon become law.
“Reliable internet has become critical for success in the classroom as well as in the business world,” said Soliday, chair of the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee. “However, many areas of our state still lack the infrastructure necessary for high-speed internet. To better ensure more Hoosiers have access to quick and reliable service, we worked hard on legislation to expand broadband to unserved and underserved areas of Indiana.”
According to Soliday, the sparsity of broadband in rural Indiana is largely due to the smaller population in those areas, which make installation of fiber optic cable cost prohibitive. Under this legislation, telecommunications companies could tap into limited access highway rights of way owned by the state for a reasonable fee. Soliday said this would allow these companies to more easily expand their services into unserved areas at a more feasible cost.
This bill also outlines the framework for the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program. In 2018, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a $100 million investment would be made in broadband development through this initiative. Soliday said these funds will help offset the cost of broadband projects in unserved and underserved regions.
“Between access fees and construction costs, service providers can have a difficult time trying to connect multiple areas over great distances,” Soliday said. “Allowing access to these rights of way at a reasonable price and creating grants to help lower costs are important steps toward expanding broadband.”
State Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) represents House
District 4, which includes a portion of Porter County.
Click here for a high-resolution photo.