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Government & Politics

Ohio Could Offer Access to Assets to Expand Broadband

a photo of John Kasich at OAR Net facility in Columbus
KAREN KASLER
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
Former Gov. John Kasich launched the Ohio Academic Resources Network, or OARNet fiber-optic network in December 2012, making Ohio the first state with a 100 gigabyte network statewide.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said he’s tired of waiting for providers to come forward with ideas on how to expand broadband and high-speed internet in Ohio. So he’s offering up some state-owned options to those companies to get them on board.
 
Husted said the state wants to know if providers might want access to infrastructure, such as easements along state highways, the state’s fiber-optic network, and ODOT cell phone towers.

Husted said it’s an economic imperative to get broadband to nearly 1 million Ohioans who don’t have it in rural and inner city areas.

“I’ve heard for a long time that the private sector will take care of this but hasn’t taken care of it. So we need to nudge them to get them engaged in helping us address this issue,” he said.

Providers around the country say it’s expensive to expand broadband, especially in hilly and remote terrain, so Husted said the use of this state-owned infrastructure could help. But another reason broadband hasn’t come to these nonconnected populations is that they can be in small clusters and quite often have less income.