COLUMBUS – State Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) today supported House passage of House Bill 2, legislation that supports the financing of broadband expansion projects in communities across Ohio.
The measure creates the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, which allocates $210 million to offset construction cost hurdles and help facilitate the expansion of high-speed internet and broadband services to unserved households.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the internet has served as a way for Ohioans to work remotely, access healthcare, receive an education, and communicate with friends and family,” said Carruthers. “High speed internet coverage is critical for our state’s infrastructure and economic recovery.”
The program maintains a robust challenge process that keeps providers competitive and promotes a free market approach. The bill also creates the Broadband Expansion Authority to review applications and award grants to eligible projects.
H.B. 2 also contains critical industry reforms designed to drive increased private investment of broadband infrastructure in unserved areas. The industry reforms represent the culmination of good-faith meetings between legislators, internet service providers and Ohio’s Rural Electric Cooperatives.
According to bill sponsor State Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Twp.), about one million Ohioans lack reliable internet connection and 300,000 households do not have any internet options.
A number of statewide organizations voiced their support for the bill, including the Ohio Township Association, County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and Ohio Farm Bureau.
H.B. 2 heads to the Senate for further consideration. To view Ohio’s broadband coverage in 2020, visit https://connectednation.org/ohio/2020-state-maps.