Indiana’s efforts on broadband expansion

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INDIANAPOLIS — Broadband expansion is the most important issue for Indiana lawmakers this session, aside from the budget.

Many are hoping they bring relief to those without access to affordable high speed internet in the state.

You wouldn’t want to be the service worker on the phone with Lori Worline when her internet isn’t working.

“My husband is just sitting there like, oh, it’s showtime,” joked Worline. “I got really, really mad.”

Slow or no service is frustrating, especially when your job requires it.

“When the pandemic hit and I had to work from home, it became a real issue,” said Worline.

She lives in Indiana, but she doesn’t consider her area out in the country.

“I’m two minutes from a firehouse, I’m five minutes from a hospital, I’m five minutes from a school,” explained Worline.

She believes companies just don’t feel the need to invest on her street right now.

“It’s all about profit for them,” said Worline.

Indiana is working to provide incentives for high speed expansion and maybe even vouchers to make internet cheaper for customers.

However, lawmakers said it’s difficult to nail down details when the federal government is looking to help states on this too.

“One of the great myths that tickles me is that if we just go out and go ahead of the feds and go in the places where the feds have already made grants, we are going to get the internet to those people faster. No, we are going to lose money,” explained State Rep. Ed Soliday (R) of Valparaiso, the chair of the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

That’s why Rep. Soliday held two broadband expansion bill votes on Monday, but the discussion about them went on.

“Let’s continue to massage this idea for the next 40 days and come up with the best policy in the United States and certainly here in the midwest,” said State Sen. Andy Zay, (R) Huntington.

Worline sure hopes so. She’s figured out a temporary solution through a trial program but said it’s not ideal.

“And then to think that there’s people that don’t even get internet service? You know, it’s like, really?” said Worline.

To read more about some of the bills designed to expand broadband in Indiana, click on the links below.

SB 352

SB 377

HB 1449

FOX59 will continue to follow lawmakers’ efforts to expand broadband in Indiana.

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