State grant helps expand internet access to more Steuben County residents

Posted by: Allison Vanatsky  | Friday, September 4, 2020

STATEHOUSE (Sept. 4, 2020) — A Pine Canyon Lake project expanding fast and reliable internet to unserved homes and businesses can now move forward thanks to a $30,000 state broadband grant, according to State Rep. Denny Zent (R-Angola).

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs recently announced a total of $51 million awarded for 50 broadband expansion projects around the state. The funding is part of the second round of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program, which will provide broadband infrastructure to more than 10,590 homes and commercial locations across 32 counties.

"Strong and dependable broadband service is crucial for all Hoosiers to access essential communication and information, especially those living in more rural areas of the state where availability may be more limited," Zent said. "High-speed internet remains an important tool as people work from home, students learn remotely and small communities continue attracting new business and talented workers. This investment in Pine Canyon Lake is huge for the 40 unserved households in need of reliable internet, and I hope to see more of these improvements come to our area soon."

Zent said the proposed project by Lakeland Internet will receive a $30,830 grant with a local match of $34,874, for a total project cost of more than $65,704.

In addition to the $51 million awarded, 16 telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives contributed more than $53 million in matching funds, resulting in more than $104 million total investment for broadband.

The Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program provides funding of up to $5 million per project to expand broadband service to unserved areas. In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must be able to contribute at least a 20% match.

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State Rep. Denny Zent (R-Angola) represents House District 51, which includes most of LaGrange and Steuben counties.

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