Last week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced more than $232 million in grant funding for 33 broadband expansion projects impacting 31 counties. According to the Office of Lt. Governor Jon Husted, these project swill make affordable, high-speed internet available to more than 43,000 Ohio households. As part of the grant process, several internet service providers also committed to independently fund 71 other broadband expansion projects serving approximately 52,000 households and impacting areas in 31 additional counties.
The announcement came after the Broadband Expansion Authority authorized BroadbandOhio to award more than $232 million in grants to 11 internet service providers as part of the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The funding will be used to cover the “broadband funding gap” associated with 33 broadband expansion projects impacting 31 counties.
“High-speed internet is no longer a luxury – it’s a critical necessity for everything from school to work to healthcare,” said Governor DeWine. “We must end the digital divide in our state, and by giving our rural and unserved areas access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet, we will enhance economic growth in these communities and bring about new opportunities for residents.”
The 33 awards announced last week will directly fund projects in Adams County said County Commissioner Barbara Moore. So far, two companies have been given funding to expand broadband in Adams County, including Southern Ohio Communications and South Central Power Communications. Upon completion of the proposed project build, thousands of additional residents will have access to Southern Ohio Communications Services (SOCS) service and South Central Power Communications, with speeds of up to one gigabit download and one gigabit upload. With simple hardware exchanges at endpoints, and the companies are able to scale this project up to speeds of 10 gigabit symmetrical.
“We appreciate the investment from the state on this important and critical infrastructure,” said Commissioner Moore. “We have worked for years in Adams County ensuring that every home that wanted access to running water, could have it. Now, we are focused on the critical infrastructure of today – and that is broadband. The Board of Commissioners will not stop until every citizen who wants broadband has access to it.”
The Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program was established in House Bill 2, sponsored by former Rep. Rick Carfagna and Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville), and the grants were funded by the Ohio General Assembly as part of Ohio’s 2022-2023 operating budget. State Rep. Brian Baldridge supported HB 2 and helped ensure its passage into the state budget. The program is also part of Governor DeWine’s Ohio BUILDS Initiative, which focuses on supporting targeted solutions that impact quality of life, such as water infrastructure improvements, broadband expansion, brownfield redevelopment, the demolition of blighted buildings, and more.