COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted announced Friday new broadband expansion projects that will make affordable, high-speed internet available to nearly 100,000 households in Ohio that currently don’t have access to reliable internet connectivity.
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, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
The funding will be used to cover the “broadband funding gap” associated with 33 broadband expansion projects impacting 31 counties — including Fayette County as well as Highland, Clinton, Brown and Warren counties.
“High-speed internet is no longer a luxury — it’s a critical necessity for everything from school to work to healthcare,” said DeWine in the news release. “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 will directly fund projects to bring affordable, high-speed internet access to more than 43,000 Ohio homes. As part of the grant process, several providers also committed to independently fund 71 other broadband expansion projects serving approximately 52,000 households and impacting 31 additional counties.
In total, BroadbandOhio estimates that around 230,000 residents will have improved broadband availability thanks to the 104 new expansion projects.
“These awards will help our local private- and public-sector partners expand high-speed, affordable internet in areas of Ohio that are currently unserved or underserved,” Husted said. “You can’t be part of the modern economy, education system and health care system without access to broadband – it is a necessity. This effort will help connect hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who have been left behind until now.”
All projects will provide service access of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload to residents in areas that do not have a provider that can supply service at this speed. The average construction time for the new broadband projects is two years, with some areas expected to receive improved internet access in only 12 months.
The grants awarded are a key component of the DeWine-Husted Administration’s comprehensive Broadband Strategy that aims bring high-speed internet throughout the state. Based on currently available information, 300,000 households in Ohio, representing approximately one million Ohioans, are estimated to lack access to broadband internet.