30,000 households in SW Ohio will finally have access to broadband internet soon
About 30,000 households in Southwest Ohio will finally have access to broadband internet soon. The state of Ohio issued more than $232 million in grants to internet providers that will build the infrastructure needed for broadband internet in rural areas.
"In rural Ohio, it never made sense for these companies to do that, because there were so much distance between homes — it lacked density — and so they couldn't get a return on that investment," said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. "And so the grant program helps cover the cost of making that viable to put those investments out there so that people can have access to high speed internet."
Statewide, 31 counties will see infrastructure built over the next roughly two years, resulting in about 1,250 new jobs. The southwest counties getting broadband expansion include Warren, Clermont, Butler, Brown, Adams, Highland, Fayette, Preble, Montgomery, Greene and Clinton.
Husted says broadband internet expansion will help move people into the modern economy.
"Governor DeWine and I have long known that you cannot participate in the modern economy, education or health care system without access to high speed internet, which means moms and dads can't telework or distance work," he said. "Students can't learn online without access to high speed internet. And the elderly or those who struggle physically, can't have telemedicine. Access to high speed internet is essential to participate in modern life."
Internet providers are also offering reduced prices for people living on a low income.
Husted says the grants also stipulate some internet providers had to independently fund an extra 71 broadband projects. That means about 230,000 households in total will benefit from 104 broadband expansion projects.
He says that's slightly less than a third of the households in the state that don't have access to high speed internet. About 4,333,578 Ohioans still don't have access to high-speed internet.
That includes about roughly 11,875 households in Hamilton County that have access to less than 25/3 Mbps, according to BroadbandOhio. Of those, 3,741 households are below 10/1 Mbps. The county is not receiving any grants to improve its broadband internet availability.
"We still have more work to do," Husted said. "But understand the private sector is also doing its own build outs without our assistance. So, you're going to see that number continue to be reduced. It's just another bite at the apple."
The grants were approved by the general assembly, and more funding for broadband internet access could be coming soon.
According to a news release from Senator Rob Portman, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $65 billion for broadband infrastructure investments throughout the country, including more than $42 billion to states through block grants from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Ohio will receive its first $100 million from that broadband funding this summer, and is expected to receive several hundred million more dollars over time.
For a statewide map of high-speed internet availability in Ohio, visit the BroadbandOhio website.
Copyright 2022 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.