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Phase 1 - Unserved Areas

Application deadline has been extended to May 3, 2019


The Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program is designed to promote access to broadband service to all areas of the state which is necessary for a highly functioning 21st century economy. As part of Governor Holcomb’s broader Next Level Connections infrastructure program, it is a significant investment of $100 million for the deployment of broadband has been made through industry funds as well as prior and ongoing grant programs. If you have any questions on the program please email us at NLC@ocra.in.gov

Grant Program Guidelines

The program provides up to $100 million to foster broadband infrastructure investment and will be conducted in two phases. The initial phase will be on unserved areas as defined below. It is anticipated that the next phase, with the remaining funds, will be to improve service in underserved areas.  We expect that these applications will be brought forward through collaboration between the community and the provider industry. Program guidelines will be revised, as necessary, for addressing the underserved market segment.

Program application development, distribution and processing will be coordinated by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) with community and provider engagement through the Director of Broadband Opportunities. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) will administer grant funding and provide technical support.  

Funding Availability - Unserved Areas Only

  • Initial funding rounds will be allocated for applications to deploy infrastructure and service in unserved areas to residential/end user customers.
  • The maximum grant amount may be up to 80% of total eligible project costs, up to $5,000,000 maximum per application.  Points will be awarded based on the percentage of applicant match provided.

Eligible Applicants

  • Applicant must be an established entity able to deliver broadband service to residential/end user customers.
  • The established entity will be the lead applicant but partnering to deliver the entire solution is permitted.
  • The applicant has to demonstrate financial, technical, and operational capacity in building and operating a broadband network.

Eligible Areas 

  • Unserved area, for this program purpose, is defined as a census block that does not have at the time of application at least one broadband provider offering actual speeds of at least 10 mbps download and 1 mbps upload, or an area where there is not a potential provider for which the census block has been designated through a federal funding program to deploy that minimum level of service by a specified date.  Non-contiguous areas may be submitted in a single application.
  • Applicants may provide information regarding additional infrastructure deployments that are not eligible for grant funding to provide context for the proposed project in the relevant portions of the application.
  • Applications must include a written description as a pdf and map file (acceptable formats: .shp, .kml, or .kmz) of the proposed service area, as well as a spreadsheet containing census blocks and addresses to be served.

Determination of the available broadband service is based on the following: 

  • The most recent available data from the FCC Form 477 (December 2017) will be used to determine existing service levels.  Federal Communication Commission Fixed Broadband Deployment Map: https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/
  • Because this data is collected on a census block level and can overstate the availability of services, an applicant is permitted to provide additional information to demonstrate that the proposed service area is unserved. 
  • Additional information must be sufficient to conclude that an area is eligible and may include but is not limited to: 
    • Statistically significant survey data for the designated area, or 
    • Documentation of the location of existing infrastructure within a given census block.
  • Click to view the list of Eligible Unserved Census Blocks or view the interactive map below. 



Challenge Process
A listing of grant applications received with identified project areas will be published and subject to a 30-day challenge period.

  • Review posted documentation from applicants to determine if challenge is appropriate
  • Collect / create documentation for challenge.
  • Complete online challenge form and upload required documentation.
  • Click here to review the full process.

Eligible Expenses

  • Eligible expenses are terrestrial capital expenses directly related to the project, including design and engineering, construction and permitting expenses.
  • The type of technology is not prescribed but scalability will be considered in the application evaluation.
  • Applicants will be required to provide a preliminary technical evaluation of the project certified by a Professional Engineer. 

Reimbursement, Monitoring and Closeout
Funds will be disbursed on a reimbursement basis and such disbursements will be proportional to the grant-to-total eligible projects costs ratio. Final payment will be subject to a grant close-out process. 

Application Scoring Criteria Guidelines
Grant applications will be scored for key criteria. Some of the criteria will have assigned point values based on the level of service and investment. Other criteria will be scored within a range of values. Download a copy of the program guidelines below for the full scoring critieria. 


A grant information workshop was held on March 12: (please note: the timeline listed in this workshop has since been updated)


Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. ET, on May 3, 2019. Challenges are posted on May 8, 2019 and will conclude on June 7, 2019. Awards will be announced in late July, 2019.


Download the application here - please do not alter the formatting of this application.  

The deadline to apply is May 3, 2019 by 4 p.m. (ET). If you have any questions, please review the FAQ document. If you still need assistance, contact NLC@ocra.in.gov or call 1-800-824-2476 and select option 3. 


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