Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 2 - a bill aimed at expanding broadband access issue across the state.
"House Bill 2 is trying to address the issue that a lot of folks here in Eastern Ohio have little or no access to the internet, whatsoever,” State Representative Ron Ferguson (R-Wintersville) said.
Internet access is a problem that many people in the Ohio valley are familiar with. Now, steps are being taken to help solve the issue.
House Bill 2 is aiming to work on getting internet access to underserved or un-served rural areas of Ohio.
"What this bill is, hopefully, going to do is take care of what’s called the last mile,” Ferguson said. “And that is where it’s only going to build out the infrastructure for internet from where it currently exists to those homes that are underserved."
Internet access has always been an issue, but it has become more prominent during the pandemic.
Many people are working from home or students are doing remote learning and they rely on internet access.
"You had government restricting people to working from home or children that had to go to school online,” Ferguson said. “And we had people going to the local McDonald’s or the local library rather than at home. So, they did work out of a car for school or work and that’s not feasible in today’s world."
House Bill 2 is a $210 million measure that will provide a grant program through the development services agency.
Telecommunication providers will have to apply for the grants by write up a business plan to provide internet access to underserved areas.
The bill passed in an emergency clause, meaning it will take place right away if approved by the senate and governor.
Ferguson said the senate will vote on this bill this month, then it will need the governor’s signature.