Expanding broadband in our rural communities
Reliable internet is a critical resource for Hoosiers, whether an educator teaching students, small-business owner working with clients or family member connecting with loved ones. We know many across the state do not have access to reliable and affordable broadband. The COVID-19 pandemic further emphasized the urgent need for closing the digital divide.
To help push our state further into the 21st century, I supported legislation this session investing in broadband, especially in rural and underserved areas.
Affordable broadband is key not only for our schools and businesses, but also for training programs and critical industries like agriculture and medical care. To expand broadband across all corners of Indiana, the proposed House budget plan appropriates $250 million for rural broadband expansion grants. These grants would be available to providers to increase access in our communities.
Lawmakers are also working to bolster an existing grant program dedicated to providing Hoosier communities additional funding for internet connection. Indiana is investing millions of dollars through its Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program to help expand fast and reliable internet to underserved locations. I am supporting legislation to strengthen this program and to prioritize the needs of our schools, health clinics, K-12 students and families in rural communities.
This is a wise investment for Indiana and could substantially impact our state’s overall growth. A study by Purdue University found there is a return of $3 to $4 for every dollar invested in broadband. A strong internet infrastructure would spur job creation and boost our economies.
Many in our community are fully aware of the struggles with access to fast, dependable and affordable internet. With these commonsense investments and programs, our area of the state can also reap the benefits of being connected and succeed in a modern world.
Editor’s note: Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem, represents House District 73, which includes Washington County and portions of Harrison, Clark, Jackson, Lawrence and Orange counties.