On Thursday, the Ohio House approved a bill targeting last-mile broadband connectivity in unserved and underserved areas of the state, including funding. The bill now moves to the state Senate.
The Vindicator reported that funding would focus on 37 counties where extending broadband service is cost-prohibitive for providers. The bill allocates $20 million for the 2021 fiscal year, which begins in July, $170 million in 2022, and $20 million in 2023.
Rep. Michael J. O’Brien sponsored the bill in 2020, which died in the Senate, reported The Vindicator. According to O’Brien, “Ohio’s promise of better lives, better jobs, and brighter futures begins with an infrastructure that’s built for the future, that levels the playing field and connects everyday Ohioans to the tools they need to live a better life.”
“Many of us take this technology for granted, yet so many Ohioans still lack access to these basic, essential services,” O’Brien added. The bill “expands opportunity and does what good government is supposed to do: it sees a wrong and tries to right it.”
Both Republicans and Democrats are working together to “ensure reliable, high-speed internet services and broadband services are brought to the most unserved and underserved areas of Ohio,” said bill sponsor Rep. Rick Carfagna. He stressed that legislators could “quickly solve problems when we all unite under one common effort.”