October 9, 2023

Purdue launches broadband team, effort to increase high-speed internet access, adoption and use throughout Indiana

President Chiang discusses how Purdue can help with accurate broadband mapping during his 92-county tour

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University continues to fulfill its land-grant responsibilities, this time by serving the state in its broadband initiative. Through its presence in every county in the state, the university is taking a leading role to help ensure all Indiana families and businesses have access to affordable broadband internet service — which is crucial for success in the 21st century — while also helping to ensure data accuracy that will help the state of Indiana in deploying the $868 million in federal funding from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program for high-speed internet improvements.

Purdue President Mung Chiang announced on Monday (Oct. 9) the launch of the Purdue Broadband Team, a collaborative effort between Purdue, the Indiana Broadband Office, and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Coordinated by Purdue’s Office of Engagement, the Purdue Broadband Team will include Purdue Extension, 4-H, the Purdue Center for Regional Development and the Purdue for Life Foundation. 

“The lack of affordable high-speed broadband affects economic development and quality of life in various communities in our state,” Chiang said. “Continuing our long-standing tradition as Indiana’s land-grant institution, Purdue is honored to play a small and hopefully useful role as the state government plans the next-level broadband deployment.”

Additional Information:

The Purdue Broadband Team is part of Chiang’s “ABCD” plan to better serve the state through four initiatives: Airport for the Greater Lafayette region, Broadband for rural counties, (hard-tech) Corridor for central Indiana, and Purdue@DC, which brings unique capabilities to our nation’s capital.

The Purdue Broadband Team focuses on raising awareness of available tools but does not have oversight on the speed test outcomes or challenges submitted. And while it is obviously not a service provider or infrastructure builder, it will work with communities in education about the ways to use broadband for businesses and families

The announcement was made as Chiang continued toward his goal to visit all 92 Indiana counties. During his tour, Chiang has seen firsthand and heard from residents, community leaders and business owners what impact insufficient broadband can have on a community. By visiting every region of the state, he says he hopes to send a message that Purdue is a resource for addressing challenges, including bridging the digital divide.

“It is part of our mission as a land-grant university to use resources, knowledge and scope of reach to aid in this critical endeavor,” Chiang said. “Broadband means better health care, better schools, stronger infrastructure and more jobs for people to choose from. This is about translating why it matters and helping make that linkage for people in communities.”

Working at a community level, the Purdue Broadband Team will help residents, businesses and local leaders expand broadband access, adoption and use by:

  • Increasing awareness of:
    • Tools to verify service, including tools for community members to conduct speed tests and validate broadband service maps.
    • Programs (state and federal) to expand broadband access.
  • Providing training to residents and businesses on digital literacy.
  • Supporting community-led broadband task forces/working groups.

With this mission, the Purdue Broadband Team is launching at a critical time, when the state of Indiana has made expansion of broadband service a top priority. 

“Access to fast, reliable internet is a major contributor to quality of life and is one of the great equalizers in today’s society,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s secretary of agriculture and rural development. “I applaud Purdue’s commitment to investing in broadband by educating Hoosiers on tools to improve their own broadband access. As a state, we have seen a direct connection between the number of people requesting broadband services in a certain area and the areas providers are most likely to invest in. I am confident that this partnership with Purdue will accelerate state efforts to ensure that all Hoosiers, in every community, will have broadband access.”


chiang-broadband Purdue President Mung Chiang meets with reporters in South Bend to discuss the role the Purdue Broadband Team will play. (Purdue University photo) Download image

The Purdue Broadband Team will be led by Roberto Gallardo, Purdue vice president for engagement and director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development, and include Purdue Extension personnel, students, 4-H members and alumni.

Gallardo says the core component of this initiative is for team members to educate the public and spread the word with family, friends and colleagues about the importance of broadband in their local communities. 

“Purdue is a long-standing and trusted partner across Indiana. With those community relationships, we want to increase awareness about the tools that are available to improve high-speed broadband access, adoption and use by making broadband data more accurate,” Gallardo said.

The Federal Communications Commission map is a key metric in determining where funding is allocated for broadband projects. Gallardo said the more accurate the data at the local level, the better the chances for resources to reach unserved and underserved areas of Indiana. 

“Accurate and up-to-date information is a critical piece of the puzzle. Local broadband groups and the state can run into challenges with the data that is needed to support grant applications,” Gallardo said. “For broadband funding to be allocated to Hoosier communities needing it the most, data must accurately reflect gaps in broadband connectivity.” 

Helping communities to improve the quality of available broadband data is just one of many efforts that the Purdue Broadband Team will undertake to help Indiana close the digital divide.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives.

Writer/Media contact: Wes Mills, wemills@purdue.edu

Sources: Mung Chiang, Roberto Gallardo

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