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Senate Bill (H)

DIGEST

Broadband grants for unserved areas. Authorizes the office of community and rural affairs (office) to award grants to qualified broadband providers in connection with qualified broadband projects involving the deployment of infrastructure to provide qualified broadband service in unserved areas in Indiana. Defines "qualified broadband service" as a connection to the Internet at an average speed of at least ten 10 megabits per second downstream and at least one megabit per second upstream, regardless of the technology used. Defines an "unserved area" as a geographic area in Indiana in which there is not at least one provider of terrestrial broadband Broadband grants for unserved areas. Authorizes the office of community and rural affairs (office) to award grants to qualified broadband providers in connection with qualified broadband projects involving the deployment of infrastructure to provide qualified broadband service in unserved areas in Indiana. Defines "qualified broadband service" as a connection to the Internet at an average speed of at least ten 10 megabits per second downstream and at least one megabit per second upstream, regardless of the technology used. Defines an "unserved area" as a geographic area in Indiana in which there is not at least one provider of terrestrial broadband service at the designated speeds. Provides that grants shall be made from the rural economic development fund. Provides that in awarding grants, the office shall give priority to qualified broadband projects proposed for unserved areas in which at least 85% of the total population is without access to qualified broadband service: (1) as of the date of the grant application; and (2) as determined by the Federal Communications Commission in its annual Broadband Progress Report. Requires the office to: (1) publish on its Internet web site all grant applications received; and (2) for each application received, establish a period of at least thirty 30 days from the date of publication, during which time the office will accept comments or objections concerning the application. Sets forth factors that the office must consider in determining whether to award a grant. Sets forth conditions that apply to the awarding of grants. Requires the office to adopt guidelines to implement these provisions and authorizes the office to collaborate with state agencies and political subdivisions in adopting the guidelines and administering grants. Requires the office to annually submit to the general assembly a report that includes specified information on grants awarded and progress made in the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved areas. Requires the state board of accounts to conduct, every three years, an audit on the awarding of grants. Prohibits the office from disclosing information designated as confidential or proprietary business information by a grant applicant or recipient. ... View more