State to Sharpen Rural Broadband Focus in 2019
Indiana's new director of broadband opportunities says the state is losing families every day due to the lack of rural broadband access. Scott Rudd says finding funding is a big part of the answer. "This is a capital-intensive industry," said Rudd on Inside INdiana Business With Gerry Dick, "and significant funding has to pour into our state." He says the opportunities are out there, adding the new federal farm bill includes telemedicine and rural broadband funding. Rudd was named in August to the newly-created position to help rural communities attract reliable and affordable high-speed internet.
He says it has been "absolutely refreshing" to see Indiana's governor and lawmakers focus on rural broadband. Governor Eric Holcomb has listed increasing broadband internet access to underserved areas as part of his 2019 "Next Level Agenda."
Rudd had previously served as town manager and economic development director for the town of Nashville. During that time, he founded the Brown County Task Force, which helped secure more than $20 million in private broadband investment.
Last month, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced plans to expand its Microsoft Airband Initiative to Indiana this year. The effort involves the tech giant working with local partners to make broadband access available to more people in rural communities. During an interview last month with Inside INdiana Business, Microsoft General Manager of Technology and Corporate Responsibility Shelley McKinley said about 850,000 Hoosiers don't have access to broadband, citing data from the Federal Communications Commission.