COLUMBUS – Fast, reliable broadband access is one of the key infrastructure issues of the 21st Century.
Today, Ohio is one step closer to bringing high-speed internet to more Ohioans with passage of legislation creating Ohio’s first-ever Residential Broadband Expansion program.
State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) called passage of House Bill 13 critical for areas of Southeast Ohio and beyond lacking connectivity. Across Ohio, nearly one million Ohioans lack a reliable internet connection, and 300,000 households do not have any internet options, he said.
“Access to high-speed internet improves access to opportunity. It is critical for economic development and educational opportunities,” Edwards said. “This is an especially important issue in Southeast Ohio, where topography and low population density have been impediments to expansion.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the closure of schools and businesses, has underscored the importance of high-speed internet, Edwards noted, with more Ohioans working and attending school virtually.
The grant program being proposed in House Bill 13 will help offset construction cost hurdles and facilitate expansion of high-speed internet and all broadband services to unserved households across the state.
The grant program will be funded with $20 million for the remainder of the state’s budget biennium. Other regulatory changes to assist in reducing barriers to broadband expansion are included in the legislation.
The bill passed with a vote of 81-8 and awaits further action in the Ohio Senate.
State Representative Jay Edwards represents the 94th District, which includes Athens, Meigs, Washington, and Vinton counties. For more information, contact Rep Edwards’ office at (614) 466-2158 or Rep94@ohiohouse.gov.
Information provided by the office of State Rep. Jay Edwards.