High-speed internet keeps expanding in Henry County

New Lisbon Broadband and Communications, part of New Lisbon Holdings, Inc., is continuing to close the ‘digital divide’ by bringing always-on, high speed internet to rural Henry County residents.

In 2020, NLBC was approved for a Next Level Phase 2 grant in the CR250E and CR 300S area of Henry County.

Indiana’s Next Level Connections (NLC) Broadband Grant Program was designed for broadband service providers and utility cooperatives to apply for up to $5 million to expand service to unserved areas if they provide at least a 20 percent match.

“Unserved areas” are described as those without at least one telecommunication provider offering at least 10 mbps download and 1 mbps upload. Proposed projects must provide a minimum level of service at actual speeds of 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload.

Serving Unserved Locations

New Lisbon Holdings CEO John Greene said the NLBC infrastructure project was completed in 2021 and covered 21 locations that were either unserved or underserved.

“To date, 12 residential (properties) have connected to our fiber network, which is capable of speeds up to 1 Gbps symmetrical,” Greene said.

In early 2022, NLBC was approved for two additional Next Level grants in Henry County.

Greene said these grants will cover an additional 25 unserved locations and an additional 25-30 underserved locations in the area of SR 103, CR 500S and CR 600S.

“That work is expected to complete later this year or early in 2023, once we have final approval from the state,” Greene said.

NLBC also applied for Federal funding under the RUS ReConnect program for other portions of eastern Henry County. The ReConnect program is administered through the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America, according to the USDA.

The lack of program funding means NLBC will need to resubmit it for the next round.

“If we do not get that funding, we will likely apply for the same areas under the BEAD program, Federal funding that will be administered by the State of Indiana,” Greene said.

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“All of our grant applications are based on Fiber to the Home technology, which will initially provide 1 Gbps symmetrical service to every location, but is also scalable up to 10 Gbps symmetrical,” Greene said. “This technology essentially makes the network future proof, at least for the foreseeable future. This means rural Hoosiers in Henry County will have the same or better Internet access as those residing in bigger cities, like Indianapolis.”

NLBC is also part of Hoosier Net, LLC, a consortium of 18 Indiana and Ohio internet service providers working to create a statewide fiber network.

– Story by Travis Weik (tweik@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at TheCourierTimes.com.