Next Level Connections Broadband requests total nearly $100M

Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Lt. Governor Crouch announced Thursday, June 4 that the second round of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant program has received 72 applications requesting a total of nearly $100 million in funding.

“Now more than ever affordable, high quality internet is essential for Hoosiers, and I’m thrilled to be taking the next step to expand access through Next Level Connections – the largest single state investment in broadband,” Gov. Holcomb said. “As COVID-19 further emphasizes the importance of connectivity, this funding will support better e-learning, telehealth and overall quality of life.”

The applications come from 21 different service providers and their requests cover more than 4,100 of the eligible census blocks in 47 counties. Applicants must contribute at least a 20 percent match.

For this round of funding, service providers were able to apply for up to $5 million per project to expand service to unserved areas. Unserved areas are those without at least one telecommunications provider offering internet fast enough to provide at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

This is the second round of broadband grant funding from the Governor’s Next Level Connections initiative, a $1 billion statewide infrastructure program announced in 2018. The Next Level Connections Broadband Grant program dedicated a total of $100 million to expanding internet in Indiana. The first round awarded $28.4 million for 14 broadband expansion infrastructure projects across 18 counties.

“Governor Holcomb and I have long placed a priority on access to reliable broadband services, and the impact of COVID-19 has only strengthened our commitment to connecting Hoosiers,” said Lt. Gov. Crouch. “The remaining funding will allow for more unserved Hoosiers to click, connect and download, with the ultimate goal of bridging the digital divide in rural Indiana.”

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs will review the applications to ensure they meet requirements and then a multi-agency committee will evaluate the proposals. Awards are expected to be announced in late July.

More information on the grant program can be found at ocra.in.gov/nlc.htm.

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