Indiana lawmakers are supporting new legislation to prioritize rural broadband expansion, reported My Wabash Valley. Under the law signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb, the state must make it a priority to deploy the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program to unserved areas.
Rep. Bob Heaton commented on the need to serve those struggling to access broadband and high-speed internet. “Not having broadband access can be a roadblock for clinics to provide quality care for their community, or for others needing to work or study from home,” he said.
According to My Wabash Valley, the state will award grant money to the company that can provide services to students for the lowest amount of money. Currently, students can self-report a lack of educational broadband service through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ website. The law also provides a voucher program, allowing schools and clinics to cover costs for upgrades.
“Especially in the last year, we’ve seen how large the gaps in broadband access really are,” said State Rep. Bruce Borders. “Getting our students, schools, and hospital clinics priority access is the first step in closing this digital divide.”