Statewide broadband program encourages eligible Hoosiers to apply for high-speed internet access
A statewide broadband program is helping eligible Hoosiers receive Internet access. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ Indiana Connectivity Program just awarded $550,108 in its latest round of awards to eligible Hoosiers for high-speed internet access.
Denny Spinner is the executive director of OCRA. He said this program is important for consumers, as OCRA programs in the past have been provider-driven.
“The ICP program was different in that it allowed Hoosiers, the consumer who had had trouble with connecting with broadband, to raise their hand and say, ‘Hey, I need service,’” he said.
Spinner said Hoosiers who have less than 100 Mpbs download speeds and 20 Mpbs upload speeds are eligible to apply for the program. Hoosiers can enter their address on the application and will be asked to verify eligibility with a test.
“When they do enter their address, we ask them for a speed test to verify that,” he said.
Spinner said the focus on consumers in this program has made a real impact on Hoosiers in areas without high-speed internet.
“We’ve had families that are connected now and their quality of life is increased and have said, you know, we, we were ready to move or leave,” he said. “But now that we've had this connection, we're here and we're going to remain viable here in Indiana.”
Spinner said the funding for this program is part of the state’s Next Level Connections Broadband program.
“The state set aside $270 million for broadband funding as part of the Next Level Connection, which included the Indiana Connectivity Program,” he said. “So, we have taken a share of that bond and set it aside for these individual grants,” he said.
Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues.
Spinner said the program awards funding to eligible providers or consumers in 90-day increments. The program accepts applications on a rolling basis, and has now awarded its seventh set of awards.
Spinner said the program will continue with this funding model as long as the state continues to support it.
“We will continue the 90-day processes as long as the funding is available to us,” he said. “Again, we're assured that we have funding for this through the current fiscal year.”
Spinner said the idea for a program that caters to consumers was developed through “collaborative conversations” in the last legislative session.
“I think Indiana has led the way in showing how we can connect individuals through this process rather than that just large broad strokes, because, again, it is an individual issue,” he said.
Spinner said those who are unsure if they are eligible can use OCRA’s online tool or contact the organization to verify eligibility.