Governor Eric J. Holcomb Thursday announced an additional $81.5 million in the final round of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program. Overall, the program is the largest investment of its kind in the country including the latest round that will provide broadband infrastructure to more than 34,000 homes and commercial locations in 54 counties across Indiana.

“The first-of-its-kind broadband grant program has connected thousands of Hoosiers in nearly every corner of the state,” Gov. Holcomb said. “It has been a model program that other states have tried to replicate to solve the inequitable technology gap that exists across the country. The program ensures that every resident has access to information which unlocks the door to opportunity and leads to a brighter better-connected future.”

The fourth round of the grant program leveraged 17 telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives contributing more than $135 million in matching funds, resulting in more than $216 million total investment for broadband.

By providing a 20% match, broadband service providers and utility cooperatives can apply for up to $5 million to expand service to unserved areas.

Two companies received funding in Marshall County to provide broadband to residential and commercial customers.  Brightspeed received $1,191.158 in grant funds and has a local match of $3,573,450 for a total investment of $4,764,633 in Marshall, St. Joseph and Starke Counties.   Surf Air Wireless was awarded $2,929.864.50 in grant funds and will locally match the grant with $8,794,302.01 for a total investment of $11,724,166.51.  Surf will use these funds in Marshall, St. Joseph, LaPorte and Porter Counties.   

“Broadband expansion isn’t just about connecting homes, it’s about connecting Hoosiers to a brighter future,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Reliable, high-speed internet unlocks opportunities for education, healthcare and jobs, improving the quality of life for all Indiana residents.”

The Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program has awarded $328 million to connect more than 102,000 homes and commercial locations by funding broadband infrastructure projects. Since 2018, the state has leveraged more than $426 million in private and local investment. Connectivity projects will have been completed in 88 of Indiana’s 92 counties through all rounds of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program.

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs administers and oversees the program. OCRA will be working with service providers in the coming weeks on next steps in the grant process.

“This is an exciting investment for broadband expansion across Indiana,” said OCRA Executive Director Duke Bennett. “These projects will help bridge the digital divide many Hoosiers experience and enhance the overall quality of life for our rural communities.”

Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program is part of Gov. Eric 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. After the initial $100 million dedicated to broadband expansion, the Indiana General Assembly allocated an additional $250 million appropriation to continue the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program.

A list of the awards and a map of Next Level Connections round four awards can be found here.