Earlier this year, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 2 into law, creating the Ohio Broadband Expansion Program. Then, as part of the state’s new biennial budget, $250 million dollars was earmarked to allow internet service providers to apply for grants that will help fund the infrastructure needed to provide faster internet access to underserved rural Ohio communities. How soon will Ohioans see a difference in their broadband offerings and what does that process look like? On this week’s Our Ohio Weekly, we connect with experts to talk about rural broadband.
More than 75% of Guernsey County's geography including 40% of homes do not have access to broadband service that meets minimum standards, according a study conducted by Reid Consulting Group in Athens. That was the news delivered to Guernsey County commissioners Wednesday during a zoom meeting with Tom Reid and Sean O'Malley of Reid Consulting Group and officials from the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association.
The U.S. legislature is considering historic investments in broadband expansion, following a year and a half of a pandemic that revealed how important broadband access is for education, work and social connection. But while funding is a big part of closing the digital divide, broadband advocates say that funding needs to come with accountability and transparency, and to be targeted to the areas that need it the most.
The future of Ohio's broadband expansion could be on the chopping block. The state Senate approved its version of Gov. Mike DeWine's two-year state budget on Wednesday and killed all broadband-related funding. Additionally, the Senate inserted new restrictions on the state's new broadband grant program. The bill would effectively restrict public agencies' ability to expand internet access outside of a municipality's boundaries, advocates in rural and central Ohio said.
A rare display of bipartisanship and an increased focus on addressing the digital divide led Gov. Mike DeWine to sign House Bill 2 — a piece of legislation that creates the state's first-ever residential broadband expansion program. After a previous version of the bill faded during the last General Assembly, DeWine said this law is essential for Ohio to move forward in 2021. "This is something where we have broad consensus in the state of Ohio — Democrats, Republicans, rural, urban and suburban areas," he said during a signing ceremony Monday at the Amanda Elementary School in Middletown.
U.S. subscribers using Space X’s Starlink non-geostationary satellite broadband service experienced median download speeds between 40 and 93 Mbps in the first quarter of 2021, according to tests conducted using Ookla’s speed test technology. Median latency for the service varied from 31 ms to 88 ms. The findings suggest that unless something changes, Starlink could have trouble meeting its service performance commitments in the FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program. The FCC tentatively awarded SpaceX nearly a billion dollars to cover some of the costs of providing above-baseline, low-latency service to 642,000 unserved locations in 35 states.