With the 7th largest economy in the United States, and 21st in the world, Ohio has a skilled and productive workforce ready to meet the needs and challenges of the 21st Century economy. The DeWine-Husted Administration understands that access to fast, reliable internet services has become a standard of living increasingly necessary for gainful employment, integration into educational programs, and preparation for the kinds of careers we expect to exist in the future.
For more than 300,000 households in Ohio, representing close to 1 million Ohioans, a lack of access to high-speed internet is a critical barrier. In some parts of Ohio, the connectivity required for children to do computer-based homework, and for adults to look for a new job, access online education or training programs, does not exist. Ohio’s most recent mapping efforts demonstrates that many Ohioans, particularly in rural areas, face connectivity issues.
The Ohio Broadband Strategy focuses on improving access for two groups: the unserved and underserved. According to the Federal Communications Commission, unserved areas are those that do not have any high-speed internet access or only have access to service at speeds of at least 10 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabit per second upstream. Underserved areas are those which have service, but at a speed less than the FCC’s definition of high-speed internet at 25 megabits per second downstream and three megabits per second upstream.
The Ohio Broadband Strategy is a comprehensive plan to expand broadband access across Ohio. Among other things, the plan calls for the creation of a telehealth initiative, defines a pathway to expand access to state-owned rights of way, and utilizes the Common Sense Initiative (CSI) to improve the regulatory environment associated with expanding services.
Accordingly, Governor Mike DeWine has created the BroadbandOhio Office. Establishing an office committed to increasing high-speed internet access across the state was an initial pillar of the Ohio Broadband Strategy that was released in December 2019. BroadbandOhio will be housed within the Development Services Agency. BroadbandOhio will coordinate initiatives with InnovateOhio, and has worked with the General Assembly to pass House Bill 2, which establishes a statewide grant program to address the high costs of expanding service in parts of Ohio. BroadbandOhio will also implement the Ohio Broadband Strategy and be the point of contact for all broadband projects in Ohio. The office will be charged with identifying high-priority initiatives and ensure their completion, as well as serve as a liaison among state agencies in order to implement the goals of the state in expanding access and supporting Ohioans who have been left without access to the modern economy, education system, and healthcare system due to their lack of high-speed connectivity. BroadbandOhio will serve as a resource for local governments and private industry as they undergo their own expansion efforts.
To learn more about the expansion of Broadband throughout Ohio, visit the following resources:
- Ohio Broadband Strategy (2019)
- InnovateOhio and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Statewide Broadband Report (2019)
- Canton Broadband Expansion (2019)
- Marysville, Starlink Pilot Project (2020)
- Connectivity Pilot Project (2021)
- Monroe County Telehealth Pilot Project (2021)
- Scioto County and Jackson County Pilot Project (2021)
- Investing in Ohio Initiative in Proposed Executive Budget (2021)
- City of East Cleveland Expansion Project (2021)
- House Bill 2 Signing (2021)
- Zanesville Expansion Telehealth Project (2021)
Quotes of Support for the BroadbandOhio Office:
“BroadbandOhio will implement our strategy for increasing high-speed internet access to underserved and unserved Ohioans across the state. We know there are more than 300,000 households in Ohio without broadband access. We need to increase access and establishing the office is a first step.”
- Governor Mike DeWine
“Access to high-speed internet opens doors for people who have been left behind across Ohio, which is why our administration established the Ohio Broadband Strategy and why we are aggressively moving forward with its implementation. You cannot have opportunities in the modern economy or access to the modern education system or healthcare system without having access to broadband internet.”
- Lt. Governor Jon Husted
Quotes of Support for House Bill 2, which establishes a statewide grant program to address the high costs of expanding service in parts of Ohio:
Ohio Manufacturers Association
“Reliable high-speed internet is a necessity for all Ohio industries, including manufacturing. The pandemic has illuminated the need for Ohio families and businesses to efficiently access broadband in today’s technology-based economy. The OMA wholeheartedly supports the creation of the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program created by House Bill 2. We appreciate the leadership of Gov. DeWine and leaders in the General Assembly who worked to create a new public-private partnership that will expand broadband in underserved areas. Ensuring all Ohioans have access to internet service is critical to the state’s competitiveness.”
- Ryan Augsburger, President, Ohio Manufacturers Association
Ohio Rural Development Alliance
“The Ohio Rural Development Alliance (ORDA) commends Governor Mike DeWine, State Representative Rick Carfagna, State Senator Rob McColley, House Speaker Bob Cupp, Senate President Matt Huffman, and the entire Ohio General Assembly for their steadfast and determined work to create a residential broadband program for Ohio. We’ve long known that poor access to broadband presents many challenges to rural Ohioans, limiting opportunities for economic development, education, access to healthcare and more. The pandemic exacerbated the problem, but also, in what can only be described as a silver lining, created the urgency to push Ohio onto the path of better connectivity. Today’s signing of H.B. 2 represents a significant milestone and we join many in celebrating the achievement. H.B. 2 marks the beginning of a path that will require dedicated focus and resources to bring broadband to all corners of Ohio. ORDA looks forward to continuing our work with the legislature and Governor DeWine as we endure to connect all of Ohio to a brighter future.”
The Greater Cleveland Partnership
“The Greater Cleveland Partnership greatly appreciates Ohio’s collective efforts to expand highspeed internet to underserved and unserved areas across Ohio. Concurrent and related efforts within BroadbandOhio, JobsOhio, and the Ohio General Assembly highlight how seriously state leaders are approaching this critical issue. We have consistently supported the passage of House Bill 2 and welcome its approval. In the state budget, and as outlined in the Executive Budget proposal, it is also imperative we address internet affordability in urban settings across the state – particularly in Cleveland and surrounding communities.”
- Baiju Shah, President & CEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership
Ohio Southeast Economic Development
“Appalachian Ohio has long suffered from socio-economic disadvantages that stem from an economy that did not adapt like the rest of Ohio. A reliance of natural resource extraction and industries that produce more with fewer people has created tremendous economic disparities with the rest of Ohio. Developing a more diverse economy and creating more information-based jobs is critical. That can only happen built upon a foundation of widely available, reliable high-speed internet. I am tremendously encouraged that the DeWine-Husted Administration and the Ohio General Assembly have cooperated to take such bold action to fund broadband in unserved and underserved areas through HB2. I am also pleased the program will not be prescriptive but allow diverse geographies to work with providers on appropriate technology solutions. Through this program we can support teleworking, small businesses competitiveness and the education and training of current and future workers, all of which are vital to our regional economy.”
– Mike Jacoby, President, Ohio Southeast Economic Development