Internet access for all

Columbus Dispatch, August 30, 2023

President Biden recently announced Ohio will receive $793 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment Program (BEAD).

This money will be directed toward funding the state’s expansion of internet access for all.

This is fantastic news for Ohio, ranked 37th in the nation for residential connectivity. This funding will primarily go towards the underserved and least connected communities though the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion grant process. Broadband Ohio will take charge in administering the state’s newly acquired funds to unserved or underserved parts of Ohio.

If an area of Ohio’s internet speed is at or below 100 mbps download/100 Mbps upload it is considered underserved while areas at or below 25 mbps download/ 3 mbps upload are considered unserved.

Broadband Access Ohio believes community broadband networks and public-private partnerships are critical in providing Ohio citizens, communities, and businesses with access to the high-quality, high-speed internet they need to thrive. For millions of Ohio citizens, students and businesses, high-speed internet access is the path to a better life and economic growth.

We are hopeful this funding will be open for cities, municipalities, counties, school districts and other governmental agencies who want to deliver this all-important service to their citizens.

For many of our coalition members, a community established a public-private partnership, providing and facilitating the installation of infrastructure allowing private internet providers access to offer service to the area. A 2020 study showed that local areas fare far better without restrictions placed on broadband funding. It would be a mistake of Ohio to not allow these critical partnerships access to this funding.

Geoff Andrews, CEO of The Management Council and Chairman of Broadband Access Ohio