Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced the Next Level Broadband program has awarded an additional $6.3 million in funding to bring the first round total to $28.4 million for 14 broadband expansion infrastructure projects across the state.

In Benton County this project will serve approximately 2,435 unserved households and 554 unserved businesses in Benton County. The requested grant amount is more than $3 million with a local match of nearly $3.2 million for a total project cost of more than $6.2 million. Mainstream Fiber Networks, LLC, will provide the unserved areas service levels of up to one-gigabyte download and upload service, the highest speed available on the market.

The total first round funding will provide broadband infrastructure to more than 11,300 homes and commercial locations in 18 counties.

Rep. Sharon Negele said in a news release, “Fast and reliable internet has become a critical part of our daily lives. What once was considered a luxury is now necessary for education, business and even public safety. I am thrilled to see an investment of this size being made in our community to improve the lives of residents, and look forward to continued progress.”

“In the 21st century, high quality, affordable broadband is essential to the success of Hoosiers and our state,” Holcomb said in a news release. “Economic development, the health of our citizens and our quality of life will be directly impacted by expanding broadband to these unserved areas.”

The award of $6.3 million for three broadband expansion infrastructure projects closes the Next Level Broadband program’s first round of funding. The initial $22.1 million for 11 broadband expansion infrastructure projects was announced in August.

The $100 million Next Level Broadband program is the largest single state investment in broadband. For the first round of funding, service providers could apply for up to $5 million per project to expand service to unserved areas if they provided at least a 20 percent match. Unserved areas are those without at least one telecommunication provider offering internet fast enough to provide the most basic services – at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

In addition to the $28.4 million awarded through Next Level Broadband, the nine telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives contributed $23.3 million in matching funds, resulting in $51.7 million total investment for broadband.

“This funding gives us the ability to help residents obtain what has become a necessary part of a high quality of life,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “We are thrilled to be able to extend the grant’s first round with these three projects, which will take these 10 counties out of internet darkness and on to the Next Level.”

Gov. Holcomb asked Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, along with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, to oversee the program.

OCRA received 64 applications, and a multi-agency committee reviewed the proposals based on the Next Level Broadband program objectives.

For more information on the selected proposals, visit ocra.in.gov/nlc.htm or click on the project name listed below.

Next Level Broadband is part of Gov. 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.