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.