INDIANA – A new program launched on Monday aims to connect the entire state to stable broadband, a need that has been in Indiana for years but has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Indiana’s connectivity program will start with a budget of $ 270 million to help connect residents who do not have an internet connection or are unstable to service providers who can expand their broadband to include these homes. or companies.
âI would say cost is probably the hurdle and the overwhelming hurdle for most Hoosiers to get connected if they can’t get a broadband service provider to provide that connection and that’s because some of these connections are very expensive, âsaid the lieutenant governor. said Suzanne Croupton.
While Indiana has allocated funds in the past to help connect residents to broadband, securing access has become a priority early in the pandemic.
âSuddenly being connected was no longer a luxury, it was essential, as workers telecommuted, students learned online and healthcare was delivered via telehealth,â said Crouch.
Residents can start applying for the program on Monday, September 27 by going to the website portal at www.in.gov/ocra/broadband/ or by calling the Indiana Broadband Connect Center, which will open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. , at (833) 639-8522.
The only requirement to apply for the program is that the location must not have an internet connection or the connection must be less than 25 Mbps for upload and 3 Mbps for upload. Those who are unsure of their exact internet speed but believe their connection is unstable are encouraged to call or access the portal, and the Connection Center will do the research to determine eligibility.
The program is not only available to home and business owners, but renters should also be able to apply for the program and simply provide contact information for the landlord or owner so they can be kept in the know, according to the. Indiana Office of Community. and Rural Affairs.
Once the app opens next week, the program will collect addresses for three months, and then the state will outsource the work to service providers. This process will continue every three months “until the money runs out or everyone is logged in,” Crouch said.
OCRA is not sure exactly how many people the program will be able to serve with this first allocation of funds, as the costs to include each home or business differ depending on its distance from an existing line.
However, the office is ready to go back to the legislature and ask for more funding once the $ 270 million is used up, as they realize that this first allocation is unlikely to be able to help all those in need of assistance. ‘stable Internet throughout the state.
âThere will be federal funds coming to us, but we don’t know when and what it will be. This [$270 million] is real money that the state has invested, so we want to get it out as quickly as possible, âCrouch said.
Crouch said this option for residents to reach out and let the state know they need services is how this program differs from OCRA’s Next Level Connection program which allows service providers to themselves choose geographic regions and then apply for grants.
âThe money will go to vendors, but it allows owners, businesses and other entities to start the process and say, ‘I’m not logged in, please extend the line to my home or business and log in, “said Crouch.