INDIANAPOLIS—More than 11,000 underserved homes and commercial locations will now have broadband coverage in Indiana because of an additional $6.3 million dollars being awarded to the Next Level Broadband program.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s $100 million program is the largest single state investment in broadband. The first round total is now at $28.4 million for 14 broadband expansion infrastructure projects and will provide coverage to more than 11,000 homes and commercial locations in 18 counties.

In the first round, service providers could apply for up to $5 million per project that would expand service to unserved areas if they provided at least a 20 percent match.

Nine telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives contributed $23.3 million in matching funds, resulting in a $51.7 million total investment for broadband in Indiana.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, along with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs—OCRA—oversaw the program.

“This funding gives us the ability to help residents obtain what has become a necessary part of a high quality of life,” Crouch said in a press release. “We are thrilled to be able to extend the grant’s first round with these three projects, which will take these 10 counties out of internet darkness.”

OCRA received and reviewed 64 different application proposals based on the program objectives.

“In the 21st century, high quality, affordable broadband is essential to the success of Hoosiers and our state,” Holcomb said in a press release. “Economic development, the health of our citizens and our quality of life will be directly impacted by expanding broadband to these unserved areas.”

The Next Level Broadband program is part of Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections Infrastructure program, which accelerates the completion of major highway projects, expands access to rural broadband services, creates more nonstop flights and pursues the expansion of rail projects in northwest Indiana.

Because of the additional funding, Jackson County Rural Electric Membership Corporation and Mainstream Fiber Networks will provide unserved areas service levels of up to one-gigabyte download and upload service. It will serve approximately 1,050 unserved households, 25 unserved businesses and eight anchor institutions in Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, Jennings, Lawrence, Monroe, Scott and Washington counties.

Mainstream Fiber Networks, will serve approximately 2,435 unserved households and 554 unserved businesses in Benton County and approximately 2,084 unserved households and 389 unserved businesses in Floyd County.

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