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Indiana to receive $868 million in federal ‘internet for all’ program

Indiana will receive more than $868.1 million in federal high-speed internet funding, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s telecommunications wing announced Monday, June 26. It’s part of a national pot worth more than $42.45 billion.

States must use the money to administer grant programs deploying or upgrading broadband networks “to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service,” according to a news release.

“What this announcement means for people across the country is that if you don’t have access to quality, affordable high-speed Internet service now – you will, thanks to President (Joe) Biden and his commitment to investing in America,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a news release.

“This is a watershed moment for millions of people across America who lack access to a high-speed Internet connection,” said Alan Davidson, assistant commerce secretary for communication and information. “… States can now plan their Internet access grant programs with confidence and engage with communities to ensure this money is spent where it is most needed.”

The initiative, dubbed the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, was created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Biden administration has called it the largest internet funding announcement in history.

Indiana previously called on Hoosiers to challenge a federal-level map of the state’s broadband coverage. National authorities used the map data to determine state funding, but it likely showed coverage as being better than in reality — depressing funding. States needed residents to file corrections to maximize their disbursements.

Indiana, along with other states, will get a formal notice of allocation on Friday, according to the release. It’ll have 180 days to submit initial proposals for grant programs, but can submit as early as July 1. Once states meet their goals, they can use any remaining money on related broadband access, adoption and equity projects.

“We stand ready to leverage BEAD, along with ongoing state efforts, to connect every remaining unserved Indiana resident to affordable, reliable broadband,” said Earnie Holtrey, deputy director of the Indiana Broadband Office.

Indiana has invested in its own broadband coverage as well, primarily through its Next Level Connections grant program to eligible broadband providers.

The state has also created a handbook to help Hoosier communities expand coverage and affordability, called Steps to Success, as well as program certifying communities as “broadband ready.”

Indiana is also working on a subsidy program for student households, school corporations and rural health clinics, per the Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ website.

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