Today, State Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Geneva-on-the-Lake) voted to support and the House passed House Bill 2, known as the Broadband Expansion bill. The legislation expands broadband access across the state with the creation of Ohio’s first Residential Broadband Expansion Program.
The bill provides grants to offset construction costs and facilitates the expansion of high-speed internet and broadband services to unserved households throughout Ohio. Nearly one million Ohioans lack access to reliable high-speed internet service simply because of where they reside.
"Internet access is a modern day infrastructure that allows businesses to compete, families to work effectively from home, and students to access academic opportunities,” said Fowler Arthur. “I hope this bill will aid the efforts of the Ashtabula County Commissioners as they study our county internet needs and encourage private sector solutions to keep us connected and growing."
House Bill 2 targets the issue of last mile connectivity to households where it remains cost-prohibitive for private providers to otherwise extend their service. Additionally, the legislation contains critical industry reforms designed to drive increased private investment of broadband infrastructure in unserved areas, such as certain areas within Ashtabula County.
Fowler Arthur notes that the legislation provides tools for county governments to be involved within the process and that it instills accountability measures to ensure funds are not abused within the program.
The industry reforms represent the culmination of good-faith meetings between legislators, internet service providers and Ohio’s Rural Electric Cooperatives.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.