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Congresswoman Spartz, Lt. Gov. Crouch lead discussions on broadband access and the rural digital divide

August 16, 2021

ATLANTA, Ind. -- Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, and the Indiana Broadband Office hosted an informative roundtable discussion with local industry stakeholders today to discuss current broadband initiatives.

Understanding broadband’s ever-increasing importance, topics centered around closing the digital divide, specifically in rural communities, and how doing so would allow underserved and unserved populations the same opportunities within areas of connectivity. Broadband in agriculture was discussed, and how the technologies used in feeding citizens can be exponentially more efficient with broadband capabilities.

Participants also discussed how many of the barriers surrounding economic development can be lessened by closing the rural digital divide. The conversation referenced a study conducted by the Purdue Center for Regional Development that estimated Indiana could gain nearly $12 billion in economic benefits over 20 years if broadband were deployed in the rural areas of the state.

“High speed internet access is critical to the 21st century economy and innovation,” said Spartz. “I commend Lt. Governor Crouch for her leadership on this issue and appreciate all of the stakeholders who joined us today at Beck’s Hybrids to share their ideas on empowering rural Indiana.”

“It is becoming increasingly more evident that fast, reliable internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity of modern life,” Crouch said. “Service providers are taking significant steps to advance the availability and accessibility of affordable and reliable high-speed internet in their communities. It is exciting to hear the stories about how their efforts are improving the quality of life for Hoosiers.”

Spartz discussed how she has been in communication with the Federal Communications Commission on expediting the broadband coverage mapping process. The revised real-time maps will provide a better planning and assessment tool for federal, state, and local stakeholders. She also provided an update on the current infrastructure legislation in Congress. Expanding high-speed internet access to Hoosiers in rural and unserved areas of the fifth congressional district is one of Congresswoman Spartz’s top priorities. 

Crouch discussed the Next Level Connection Broadband Grant Program, designed to provide funds for deploying broadband infrastructure to provide eligible broadband service to underserved end-users, including households, businesses, and community anchor institutions. Indiana plans to invest $270 million toward improving broadband access and adoption in the state through this and other programs.

Those in attendance were able to share their challenges, accomplishments, investments, and hopes for their industries. Overall, stories of success, partnerships and how to work together lined the conversations, ultimately leading to continued connections that advance the conversations.

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