Local internet provider receives grant to expand broadband service

KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – A local internet provider has been awarded a grant from the state to expand broadband service in Knox County.

Echo Wireless received $2.4 million from the state’s Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program that will go towards support to expand broadband infrastructures in the northeastern region of Knox County.

Knox County Indiana Economic Development Christopher Pfaff said the Knox Rural Broadband Task Force was organized a little over a year ago, and includes many different community members.

“Internet service providers, local businesses, and agricultural businesses, all joined the Task Force,” Pfaff said.

Part Owner of Echo Wireless Tim Trotter said a key factor into having received the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant was results from one of Task Force’s first surveys.

“We had some studies done by Purdue on the quality of internet around Knox County,” Trotter said. “What came to light was particularly in the northern part of the county the internet were not up to par. It was not at state minimum levels and it certainly not at federal minimum levels.”

Trotter said this is when Echo Wireless applied for the grant.

“The program provides money specifically for building out these areas that they know are not financially feasible for private companies to build on,” Trotter said.

Longtime Knox County Resident Norm Conde said as a former teacher and current farmer, it’s essential to have reliable internet in all parts of the county.

“We use internet for lining up in our fields, it helps us increase crops because we can get more rows,” Conde said.

Conde believes the new grant will help better serve the county.

“It’s extremely important both educationally for the youth, as well as for the business people in the area,” Conde said.

The full list of the round three Next Level Connections Grant Recipients is available on the Indiana Government website.