COLUMBUS — InnovateOhio and the Ohio Department of Transportation released a report this week detailing the need for broadband access in certain rural parts of the state. The report compiled responses to the broadband request for information and interviews with stakeholders.
The government estimates that about 300,000 households, which represent about one million people, do not have access to high-speed broadband internet. Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted have stated that they hope to expand access to these underserved areas.
“My administration is committed to making sure broadband is a part of our overall infrastructure strategy,” DeWine said in a news release. “This report provides interesting insight into opportunities Ohio can take advantage of as we develop plans to improve and expand broadband across the state.”
The report identified some positives in going forward with broadband expansion, but also listed some potential challenges.
The key finding in the report was that the state-owned land along state-owned highways could be valuable land for building the infrastructure to expand broadband access to these rural areas. Among the other positives, the report found that providers are investing in Ohio networks, some new companies are looking to have a presence in Ohio and new partnerships may help yield more access.
Some challenges in expanding access include the lack of a statewide broadband strategy, tax codes that could disincentivize broadband investment and regulations that could cost potential investors a lot of time and money.
“We received a lot of very helpful feedback as part of this process, which we can now use as we craft a statewide broadband strategy,” Husted, who also serves as the director of InnovateOhio, said in a news release. “Expanding access to and quality of broadband in our state is a quality of life issue, an economic issue, and a health and safety issue, which is why our administration is determined to get our strategy right.”
The committee that handled the report received 24 responses to a request for information from interested parties and scheduled eight additional meetings to find more information.
Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.