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More broadband funds in the works, advocates looking for accountability

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.

Ohio Senate cuts broadband funding from budget, adds amendment advocates say limits expansion

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.

DeWine signs bill establishing broadband grant program, allocates $20 million

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.

Ookla Finds Starlink Speeds Would Have Trouble Meeting FCC RDOF Requirements

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.

Broadband expansion bill sponsored by Hocking County state rep

LOGAN — Hocking County’s state representative is working to make a campaign dream a reality: Expanding broadband internet access. Ohio House Bill 2 builds incentive for private internet providers to provide internet in residential, unserved areas. The bill creates the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program; it also creates a five-person board called the Broadband Expansion Program Authority that will oversee grant distribution.

Ohioans are already bridging the digital divide. Will state lawmakers help?

LOWELL – Looming over unplowed back roads still-glistening with snow, a 200-foot beacon of high-speed internet stands tall in Washington County. Nearly 120 miles southeast of Columbus, Brad Spray glances up at his handiwork. The cellphone tower, which has beamed reception to Verizon Wireless and AT&T users across the county, thanks to Spray and the Southeast Ohio Broadband Cooperative, will expand wireless internet service to hundreds of residents in Lowell, a village 10 miles north of Marietta.
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