Since over 600,000 Indiana residents lack access to adequate broadband service, State Senator Scott Baldwin has authored Senate Bill 359, which would create a tool to help communities invest in high-speed broadband projects. The bill would allow local governments to finance high-speed broadband infrastructure by leveraging anticipated revenues generated by service fees.
Baldwin told INdiana Business how the bill would impact underserved areas of the state. “Internet service providers are not building additional facilities or infrastructure into certain areas because they can’t guarantee to their investors or their own corporation that there’ll be sufficient adoption against the cost that they would incur to build that infrastructure,” he said.
His legislature would allow local governments to finance broadband projects through the issuance of taxable or tax-exempt bonds. The bonds would then be repaid by the broadband provider from customer fees collected.
“It’s just another arrow in the public-private quiver for private communities to be able to solve their own broadband service problems,” Baldwin added. He noted that the bill should help rural, suburban, and urban communities throughout the state.
Another state broadband initiative to close the digital divide was announced by Governor Eric Holcomb on Tuesday, reported INdiana Business. Holcomb is seeking $100 million in funding for his Next Level Broadband grant program.
Under the program, the state has already awarded over $79 million to 41 counties during the first and second funding rounds. “The additional $100 million I’m requesting will enable us to continue making progress, bringing improved speed to all corners of our state for all Hoosiers,” said Holcomb.