COSHOCTON − Ohio Transparent Telecom (Ohio TT) of Zanesville has laid out a schedule for 2023 for its wireless broadband project with Coshocton County Commissioners that should have all towers built and equipment live by end of the year.
In 2021, commissioners pledged $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to give county residents broadband internet access. Ohio TT won the contract in September 2021. By the end of last year, the company had installed equipment and went live on several co-location towers across the county.
Megan Kvamme of Ohio TT said by the end of the projects they should cover about 36,900 residents with 18 sites.Ohio TT is starting phase two of the project, which will be focused on building new towers to close coverage gaps. New builds will be south of West Lafayette and County Road 159, the area of County Roads 55 and 23, Keene, Chili and Ohio 93 north of Fresno, Tiverton, New Guilford and Bakersville.
Finalizing land leases should be done in April along with the start of tower manufacturing at a facility in Ashland County. The first of these towers should be received in June with the West Lafayette tower the first to go up.Kyle Yoder of Ohio TT said they looked at areas where they received a lot of requests for service, had low cell service and fit in well with the existing towers being used.
Kvamme said all towers should be live by the end of October and the focus will shift to advertising and promotion of services and on-boarding customers. She said they recently surpassed 125 active customers and they have more waiting to register as service is available in their area.
“We believe they will fit in properly with what we’re laying out with the new tower builds and others we’re working on looking at with signal and testing that,” Kvamme said on customers waiting. “We think momentum will be building from there.”
Kvamme said activity on their website is up 41% in the last week and more than 187% from this time last year. Ohio TT is also posting three times a week on Facebook and Twitter and new promotions are being explored.”I think that shows you the word is getting out and people are starting to reach out on their own. We’re continuing efforts to try to connect with them also, but we have more people talking about it in the community,” she said.
Kvamme said some work on phase one will continue with the biggest hurdle having been three Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) towers pegged for co-location failing load studies and can’t be used. This has left them with eight existing towers to place equipment on with a tower in the Nellie area to come online in the next few weeks.
Kvamme said they’ve obtained access to an Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum that will allow them to provide a more powerful signal and expand coverage with some of the existing towers. They’re also working on a second co-location tower in the New Castle area and a possible new build near Wills Creek to help cover the MARCS loss.
“What we’ve lost with MARCS, we will get with better strength,” Kvamme said.