Broadband for Rural Ohio Focus of SB225

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Two Ohio Senators are leading the charge to expand high speed internet service to rural parts of Ohio not currently served by it.

Senators Joe Schiavoni, a Youngstown-area Democrat; and John Eklund, a Cleveland-area Republican, are beind the measure.

"Right now, 300,000 rural Ohio households do not have access to high speed internet," Schiavoni says. "88,500 Ohio businesses do not have access to broadband, making it harder for them to succeed in the competitive marketplace."

Businesses, homes, schools and nonprofits need better access to high-speed internet, both senators say.

"My sense of it is that well, many, if not all of them have access to the internet. It's the question of whether it's high speed internet," Eklund says. "Highly populated areas in the state are fully built-out with broadband. That's happened. But the smaller communities out in the hinterlands, they may just not have the resources to build out in their areas."

Schiavoni says the bill requires one million dollars in each fiscal year to be used toward contracting with independent organizations to collect and analyze state broadband data regarding broadband service. He adds, the bill establishes appropriations of $50-million in Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019, to be used for broadband development grants. Applicants can be businesses, political subdivisions, nonprofits and co-ops.Similar legislation is being worked out in the House of Representatives.

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