COLUMBUS – State Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) yesterday 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.
“Expanding broadband access to rural Ohio is a top priority for the 83rd District,” said Cross. “I am pleased to support this legislation that will help jumpstart our rural constituents’ and communities’ internet access needs.”
The legislation targets the problem of last mile connectivity to households where it remains cost-prohibitive for private providers to otherwise extend their service.
Under the bill, Development Services Agency is required to receive and review applications for program grants and send completed applications to the Broadband Expansion Program Authority for review and to award grants to eligible projects.
The legislation 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.