INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — A coalition of organizations and businesses is partnering to help bring reliable broadband service to the most unserved and underserved communities across Indiana, and is counting on Hoosiers to pinpoint those locations.
A primary element of the Indiana Broadband Strategic Partnership is to promote the Indiana Speed Test, a crowd-sourced measurement of internet speeds.
The Indiana Farm Bureau, one of the founding members of the partnership, says data derived from the speed tests will help communities seeking funding for broadband improvements.
“As local communities were dealing in that space, or even trying to apply for federal grants, is that they really ran into challenges with the data that they had to support those grant applications,” said Indiana Farm Bureau Senior Director of Policy Strategy Katrina Hall in an interview with Inside INdiana Business.
The test was created by GEO Partners LLC, a Minnesota-based tech company that analyzes real-time internet speed data by collecting speed test information from residents.
Displayed on geographic information system (GIS) layers, the data pinpoints areas that are most in need of reliable, affordable access to broadband service. The partners hope to gather data in all areas of Indiana.
“Data is a critical piece to help local broadband groups and the state of Indiana invest where service is needed and to avoid overbuilding infrastructure,” said Randy Kron, INFB President. “With their groundbreaking work in other states, GEO Partners is a perfect fit.”
During the most recent session of the Indiana legislature, lawmakers boosted spending for broadband investment across the state, allocating $250 million for the state’s Next Level Connections grant program.
The legislature also passed House Enrolled Act 1449 which sets upload and download speed requirements for state broadband grant recipients.
“We really are, as a partnership, interested in this information being available to decision-makers, so that they can provide the service that their citizens need,” said Hall. “We hope that this information will also provide the information so that they make wise investments.”
Hall says internet service providers want to avoid over-building or building over the top of existing services and make sure underserved areas get an increasing amount of service. GEO Partners is working with other states including Minnesota, Washington, Maine, Kentucky, and Nebraska to gather broadband data for similar programs.
“With their groundbreaking work in other states, GEO Partners is a perfect fit,” said Kron.
The speed test may be performed multiple times on any device that has an internet or cellular connection and takes less than one minute to complete. Click here to take the speed test.
Hall says no personal information will be collected as users complete the speed test.
In addition to the Indiana Farm Bureau, the partnership includes Bloomington-based Cook Medical Group, Plainfield-based Duke Energy Foundation, Indiana Association of Realtors, Radius Indiana and the Regional Opportunity Initiative.